Sandy in Long Island

I just returned from Long Island where 8 of us from St Joe’s took some time to help people effected by Superstorm Sandy. We were hosted by Fr. Ted Brown, the director of Campus Ministry at LIU Post and a LaSallette priest (His nameplate on his desk just reads Ted Brown, Friend) and he and his colleague Jeanette, arranged our projects and provided our housing and a few meals making this an affordable and awesome trip.

We headed out to Long Beach where the sand on the beach is now piled high. Know those snow piles you see in winter. They have sand like that. See for yourself.

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We helped a great guy named Bryan who has been putting his own needs far behind the needs of the community. He opened his realty office to be used as a donation headquarters. “Basically anything you can get at a CVS!” he said to us. At the same time he arranges volunteers to go help residents who have lots of damage to their homes.

He sent us to rip out flooring and sub flooring in two different homes and then Jeannette, LIU’s community service coordinator suggested that we help him get his business back on its feet as well. Bryan’s office was also damaged by the tons of water that flowed ashore, but Bryan was too busy helping everyone else to take care of this. So we ripped out his walls and insulation and got two rooms ready for rehab. Here I am crowbarring out his drywall.

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Val, one of my favorite students, had an insightful remark during reflection about the experience. “Outside these homes look fine, even beautiful. But inside! They’re ruined! Do we look carefully enough at the needs of others, because they might look OK, but on the inside, they may be in need of help.” Here we see Christine ripping out rotted floor boards from a home.

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That young lady will be a great occupational therapist!

So pray for the people in these areas, who are still recovering. They need our prayers and now that the CNN cameras have gone away, many feel isolated and alone and quite a bit desperate.

As we get back to our lives, let us remember to look more deeply at the needs of others and know that what we see may not tell the whole story.

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When Prayer is All That’s Left To Do

Deacon Greg reflects today on the hurricane after seeing his church in Queens filled to the rafters.

I’m reminded of what we went through after 9/11, when churches were suddenly packed. Eventually, like all floods, that one ebbed. I wonder if we will see the same thing after Sandy. It’s possible. But this particular event isn’t over yet, and won’t be for months. There is a lingering sense of something vaguely apocalyptic, something that will change how we live and where we live, and that will have an impact we can’t yet measure because, quite simply, we’ve never experienced something quite like this. We don’t have the tools to gauge what we’re going through. A fifth of the population has been impacted by something far beyond our control.

So what else is there to do, but hit your knees?

I also think this is a peculiarly Catholic impulse: when you can’t do anything else, you simply have to pray. And the Church has an arsenal of prayers at the ready for times like these: novenas, rosaries, holy hours, devotions. We are a praying people. And we are better because of it. Our conversations with the Almighty give us solace, and a sense of solidarity, too. We are in this together.

And when we rise from our knees and stretch our backs and shuffle back out, blinking, into the light of day, we feel somehow assured—and reassured— that we are not alone.

God is in this with us, too.

Amen. For all those still in harm’s way, I pray that you find warmth and safe keeping. Know that you remain in our prayers along with the prayers of all the Saints on this feast day.

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A Shelter From the Storm

I’m thinking much about my friends and family in the New York/New Jersey area these days. For the past three years we’ve joked about how their cities have had worse winter weather than my new adopted city of Buffalo. But nobody was joking yesterday and today we here in Buffal may be in Hurricane Sandy’s path today as well although it seems to have slowed a bit and things here are calm.

Mostly everyone I know down in New York City is OK. Marion’s cousin seems to have gotten the worst of it with no power and a bunch of trees falling on her deck. My best friend is stuck at his New York City Radio Station because the bridges, subways and tunnels are closed. My mother is safe in Yonkers hospital and my father and sister are hunkered down in their residences with little trouble. Two other close friends in Jersey are without power.

The worst is yet to come. It’s going to get cold tonight and tomorrow and those without power may have a rough time of it. Pray especially for the elderly who have a much harder time with the cold weather than the rest of us.

Technology has been a great “shelter” for many of us, Facebook especially. Even for those without power Verizon mobile hotspots have kept them able to update their status and wrap others in a virtual embrace. It’s amazing how connected we are now and how much easier it’s been to stay connected to each other at times like this when we all need to come together, even despite differences.

And yet, some would rather stay in the storm of hatred and destruction.

A preacher claims that the pro-gay agenda by both Gov. Romney and President Obama (but especially President Obama, he says) has caused the storm. Take a gander at this pure bullshit that starts with a reference to the “perfect storm” that hit New England 21 years ago to the day.

It appears that God gave America 21 years to repent of interfering with His prophetic plan for Israel; however, it has gotten worse under all the presidents and especially Obama. Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!

With all of this, there is almost zero repentance by the church: zero! The fear of God has disappeared from His people. The church in America is now EXACTLY like ancient Israel before the Babylonians destroyed them. Both ancient Israel and the modern American church completely lost the fear of God.

On blog talk radio, a handful of us have been crying out to the Lord in repentance and mercy on the land along with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us.

And everywhere but your blog talk radio program, people are calling on you to shut the hell up and to regain your sense of humanity, you idiot.

If there’s one thing that can get me going it is the stupidity of fundamentalism and their lack of remorse and compassion and their insistence that God smites people for their sins–a notion that Jesus repeatedly denies throughout the gospels. And one that Catholics do not hold as a tenet of their faith.

The worst part about this is that some will lump all religious people into one boat (no pun intended) because of the comments of one moron. The great work that Catholic Charities USA is doing in places like Little Ferry, NJ where they helped haul people to safety will go mostly unnoticed.

But let’s not harp on bad news but on resiliency of our people. Including those over at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where Fallon delivered a monologue to an empty theatre and in my opinion, he killed it. Take a look.

Today let us pray for all those caught in harm’s way. My colleague Becky Eldredge sent this my way yesterday:

Prayer for Protection During a Storm:

Loving God, maker of heaven and earth,
Protect us in your love and mercy.
Send the Spirit of Jesus to be with us,
To still our fears and give us confidence.

In the story waters,
Jesus reassured his disciples by his presence,
Calmed the storm, and strengthened their faith.
Guard us from harm during this storm
And renew our faith to serve you faithfully.
Give us the courage to face all difficulties
And the wisdom to see the ways
Your Spirit binds us together in mutual assistance.

With Confidence we make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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