Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stormy Days, Election Day--A Time for All the Saints

Long Beach Island, NJ under water

The Communion of Saints

   For those who have been following my Vatican II, Year of Faith, reflections they will continue.  In the meantime the events of recent days have called me in another direction.

   On this All Saints Day morning I am sitting in northern Michigan preparing to fly home to Florida this afternoon.  Even this far west of the Atlantic we have felt the effects of Sandy, though in a very minor way compared to the destruction that has been inflicted on the East Coast, especially in New Jersey and in New York City.  As people of faith what are we to make of such a tragic event?

   First of all let me say that I am glad that I have not heard any nonsense about God punishing people there.  People have asked though, "Why did God send us this storm?"  I don't think that God sits in heaven and sends storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters our way.  God not only did create the universe, but is still creating it.  The universe has both life-giving beauty and terrifying destruction.The Creator has built in a natural cycle of death and renewal into the universe. We humans are placed on this planet in the midst of all of these forces of nature. The real question is "How do we deal with it? How do we respond when a natural disaster strikes?

   We are fortunate to have more advanced technology and things like weather radar that help us to forecast such things with more accuracy.  With this tremendous storm the meteorologists were at their best and warnings were sent out.  Most heeded the warnings. Some did not.  Such is  human nature. Even for those who prepared for what many called the "superstorm" the destruction wrought was beyond anything we might have imagined.  I have friends in New Jersey and New York, as well as many of my fellow friars, and my prayers go out to them.  It will take months and maybe years to fully repair all of the damage.

   As we move ahead what will it take to move forward, especially in the most ravished areas?  The answer lies in today's Feast of All Saints.  It will take saints.  No, not robed spirits sporting halos, but rather the saint, the holy one, the dwells in all of us. Yes, we are all sinners as well, weak and imperfect human beings, but saints, as they say, are nothing but sinners who have grown and are forgiven.  To not only recover from hurricane Sandy, but also the economic and political  mess that we are in will call forth the saint in all of us, the capacity to go beyond selfish interests and to pitch in and serve others.

   Whether it was the days after 9/11, or hurricane Katrina or now hurricane Sandy, our saintliness will be needed.  And it will be seen in the short run.  People of different political stripes will pitch in and work together. We have already seen some of that.  The challenge is to strive to sustain that spirit as things get better, and not to despair if they get worse.

   We have a big election coming up with much at stake.  Neither of the candidates and neither of the parties is fully satisfactory to me.  I will have differences with whomever wins as well as areas of agreement.  It will take the same kind of "saintly" working together to move our country forward as it takes to recover from this storm.  Let us disagree with our leaders where we must, where our consciences tell us that this must be so, but let us fond enough common ground to move forward, to recover from all of the storms that threaten us.  Of such is the Reign of God.

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