Monday, September 26, 2005

How Could God Do This Again?

Americans, believers or no, at this point are holding their breath and whispering a prayer for the people trying to evacuate the Texas and Louisianna coasts. "How could God do this to us again?" I've heard people ask, even very religious people.

Scientists are explaining to us the cycle of these more violent weather systems, and the factors that come together to make them happen. There seems to be a satisfactory enough explanation on a natural level that is that it doesn't seem necessary to blame God.

Rather, we have the promise from God himself that no matter what befalls us from the powers of nature, he will be working through it nevertheless for our salvation. In other words, God's love is reliable because the storm is not stronger than God.

Regardless of what category the Hurricane hits land as, God will work simultaneously in each person's life to bring good out of the evil. And in this case, I believe that God will be working simultaneously in and through each Americans' life to bring about some unexpected good for our country. It may not be more money, pleasure, or success. Those aren't things God considers very important. But it will be something on the lines of a greater awareness of the needs of each other, a more serious commitment to justice for the poor in our cities, a willingness to change our lifestyle because we see and know the people now who are in desperate need. They are in our house.

God also will be working miracles that we'll find out about after. I was e-mailed this from a friend who is a Sacred Heart Brother:

Sacred Heart Brothers, students survive hurricane in Mississippi

By Larry Wahl Catholic News Service MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) -- One hundred fifty men, women and children faced a dreadful choice, nightmarish in intensity, but all too real if they were to survive. With floodwater rising and 120 mph winds whipping outside the third floor of St. Stanislaus College School in Bay St. Louis, Miss., survival was a moment-by-moment nightmare with diminishing choices for escape.

On Aug. 28, the day prior, the 20 or so Brothers of the Sacred Heart who teach at the school, or live there in retirement, had made provisions for hunkering down with the 45 foreign students who were unable to return to their homes and families outside the United States. Joining them were numerous lay faculty and their families. In anticipation of high winds and storm surge, the brothers selected what they considered to be the sturdiest of the buildings at the St. Stanislaus complex: a three-story residence used by the brothers.

St. Stanislaus, a boarding and day school for boys in grades 6-12, and the brothers' residence are located just a stone's throw from the Gulf of Mexico and just a few miles from what would be their own ground zero -- Hurricane Katrina's landfall. Knowing from past experience that flooding from a storm surge could occur, the brothers and students had moved food, mattresses, blankets and other provisions to the second floor of the brothers' residence. As an uneasy night progressed into the early morning, Katrina taught them all new things about hurricanes. No one anticipated, by past experience, the menace and power of this hurricane, especially the storm surge's quickly rising water.

By late morning the group had to abandon the second floor for the third floor. Just a short time later, with angry, gray-green waters continuing to rise rapidly, the group was faced with an escape route that would lead them to higher ground -- but at great risk. A 50-foot-long open-air walkway leading to the school was quickly becoming a last option for safety. The hurricane-force winds and a brutal 35-foot-deep sea roiling just 10 feet below the walkway had all the makings of a fear-based reality show.

But there was one more thing. During the whole ordeal, the peak of which lasted more than four hours, brothers, students, faculty and families had been praying. Then, just moments before that first tenuous step was to be taken on that walkway, the waters began to visibly recede, the winds began to calm, and desperation finally turned to thanksgiving and hope. Still, the group of 150 souls was stranded without food or water.

It wasn't over yet. But the power of prayer begets other things, too, like inspiration. About 100 miles to the east, another Brother of the Sacred Heart, Brother Paul Mulligan, a faculty member at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, asked a local bus charter company to assist in a blind rescue effort. Without having been able to contact those at St. Stanislaus and no human way of knowing the fate of those at St. Stanislaus, Brother Mulligan made arrangements to pick up the brothers and students as soon as the waters had receded enough to make the roads passable.

The bus, packed with brothers and foreign students, made it safely from Bay St. Louis to the brothers' residence in Mobile. From there the students, accompanied by a smaller cadre of brothers, rode from Mobile to the Sacred Heart Brothers' residence in Baton Rouge, La., to catch flights home. In Baton Rouge, U.S. officials, realizing the students had lost virtually everything -- including their passports -- in the hurricane, waived passport-carrying requirements for them.

In this days, it is more than true: If we look for God we will find him. If we listen to the inspirations in our heart to help others, we will be the arms and heart of God for them.


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