Seeking protection and help from natural disasters and terrorism
|Catholic Church in Key West, Florida|
Saint John Paul II asked Catholics to pray to the Virgin Mary, especially at this time of increased global terrorism, and as we commemorate the anniversary dates of the September 11th attacks.
The day after the attacks, on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, Pope John Paul II presided over a prayer for peace, after he entrusted the world to the Virgin Mary. September 11, 2002, fell on a Wednesday, when the pope usually holds his general audience. The pope presided over a universal prayer of intercession for the victims of the attacks and their families, and for peace in the world. The following year, on September 11, 2003, John Paul II was traveling to Slovakia, but on the eve of his departure on Wednesday, the 10th of September, he mentioned the Virgin Mary, recalling that her Nativity had just been celebrated and that on September 12th the Church celebrates the Holy Name of Mary.
On Saturday, September 11, 2004, he addressed this message to the bishops of the United States: ‘I join your prayers for an end to the wound of terrorism and the establishment of the civilization of love… May you find wisdom and strength through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, patroness of your country!’
The Caribbean Islands, Texas and Florida have been hit hard by devastating and life killing hurricanes. Mexico has also been struck by a hugely destructive earthquake.
In August, we visited Florida and the Key West area. As we heard the news that Irma was forming and headed towards Florida and the Caribbean Islands, what struck me was learning that in 1919 a powerful hurricane nearly destroyed Key West. The deadly storm took 400 lives. In 1922, a Canadian nun, Sr. Louis Gabriel, stationed there to spiritually serve the people of Key West had a grotto erected with two statues in honor Our Lady of Lourdes and Bernadette. Mary is referred to as the Star of the Sea. Sr. Gabriel had experienced three powerful hurricanes. She believed that the Blessed Mother would protect the people of Key West from future catastrophic storms. Since that time, with the exception of the current hurricane Irma, there have been no major natural disasters to hit the area. Surely, there is a message for us in this. Why does the nation in the face of looming disasters no longer naturally and automatically turn to prayer to ask God for help and protection? Have we been praying, in our homes and parish communities, for the civilization of love and peace that John Paul II spoke about?
Readers may wish to visit The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea and read more about the interesting and spiritually educational parish history. We forget our Christian roots at our own peril.
May the Lord through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the souls of those who lost their lives, because of terrorism, earthquakes and hurricanes. May the Lord also give strength and consolation to those family members and friends left behind so they can continue to carry on with their lives and serve Him and His people.