Inspire Faith, Hope, and Love Amidst the Floods in LouisianaPosted: August 17, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo
Image of Mary statue still standing during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (Image Source: Fox News)
This week, I would like to start off with a prayer rather than ending with one:
Dear Lord, we need your help. We need your mercy. We need the love that only You can bring so that we can share it with those in most need of it. Our brothers and sisters are suffering great loss and heartache following the floods that have devastated their towns and parishes in Louisiana, which is not to mention other disasters and dire circumstances around the world. As homes, businesses, and livelihoods must be rebuilt in the months, if not years, to come, we offer a special prayer that Your mercy may be what rains upon them, and that we, as part of the human family, will be Your instruments to share that love with those in need. It is in the darkest times of our lives that Your light shines brightest. May we shine Your light upon those who are suffering the most by lending our support, prayers, and sharing our trust in Your providence and mercy. God bless the victims of this flood, and may they comforted to see Your face in the midst of the darkness. May we be the saints you call us to be. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Since Friday, historic flooding has left over 13 dead, 8,400 people in shelters, 40,000 homes damaged, 30,000 people rescued (according to this NBC News report) and it is being named the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy by the Red Cross.Many of us can only imagine what effects this type of disaster has on the lives of those affected. But there are those who know exactly how it feels to be in this situation, and among those are people from New Orleans. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the New Orleans area and changed the lives of tens of thousands, but they were able to rebuild and have hope thanks to the aid and relief they received from the around the country. But when the news died down, it was their neighbors in Baton Rouge and other surrounding areas that offered them a place to eat, sleep, and live life.
The acts of love shown in the wake of a large disaster are what helped those who lost so much have so much to hope for. And it is these people who received such love and hope that now have an opportunity to be there in the same way. There is a letter that was posted on Facebook by a man named James O'Byrne that is going viral because he captures the spirit of gratitude and hospitality that was shown to him and other residents of New Orleans in their time of need. The post is below:
He writes, "But in the midst of the heartache, there’s so much work to be done. Flooded belongings to be dragged to the curb. Sheetrock to be ripped out and replaced. Belongings to be sorted, and salvaged wherever possible. And hugs. You’re going to need a lot of hugs.The donated food and the clothing and necessities, those are the easy parts. People are generous at heart, and that stuff is already flowing your way, fast and soon. But after that, there’s the work. It'll take a while. That’s what we’re coming for." He continues, "We remember 2005. You took us in. Held our hands. Gave us shelter. Fed us. You were endlessly kind and generous. We clogged your highways, filled your schools, overran your favorite restaurants. Bought all your liquor. And we stayed for months. And if you ever complained, you did so softly, and to yourselves. You lifted us up."
Clearly, having been through this, his insight and outlook is encouraging, not just for the victims of this recent flood, but to all of us. It shows a serenely human quality to act out of love for another. It shares how hope breeds hope, encouraging others to step up. And through these acts, this should give us faith in humanity. Why? Because all of these things - faith, hope, and love - are the theological virtues that show us the face of God, and we can rejoice in knowing that we are each capable of these virtues. In fact, it is of utmost importance that we strive to embody these virtues by showing others what it means to love, to hope, and to have faith because it is in so doing that the people around us can do the same. This level of fidelity is what should guide our friendships, our marriages, and our work. For God's love shines through us and is for us to share - for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. But unlike these marriage vows, not even death can separate us from His love. So share that with more people.
A soldier assisting a child across the flooded streets in Monroe, LA in March 2016. (Image Source: http://www.defense.gov/)
The past few weeks, I have been promoting The Olive Mass as an opportunity to bring the food world together in faith and fellowship to encourage people to use their gifts with food for the good. This special Mass is on Monday, September 26 in New Orleans and extends a blessing to those who are in the culinary and hospitality worlds, but all are invited to come. My hope is that in light of the recent devastation in Louisiana, as well as in the recently flooded Ellicott City, MD (site of The Table Foundation's first dinner event during Advent last December), that all who have lost their businesses, their homes, their ways of life, can come out and share in the faith, hope, and love of God during these hard times. Through the Mass celebration, as well as through a reception at the Old Ursuline Convent and dinner at Shaya restaurant, our hope is to show how the food we offer should be a means to inspire faith, hope, and love for God and one another, helping to make the world a better place to live in.
So we pray for Baton Rouge and the many other cities and parishes affected by the recent floods, as well as those areas that were not, that they may be there for one another and be lifted up. For us God is coming, and now is an opportunity for His light to conquer the darkness through you and others. May your faith shine His light and may you inspire hope in those who need it.
For more information on The Olive Mass, click the link below.