Bishop of Orlando Thomas Wenski celebrated a special Mass on Monday asking for God’s protection during hurricane season. “At the beginning of this hurricane season, we turn to God and pray that we will be spared from the ravages of nature this year,” he said in his homily as he urged the faithful to place themselves under God’s dominion and to turn their hearts to the Lord.
Noting that weather forecasters have predicted an active hurricane season, Bishop Wenski said that area residents have been made more aware of adversity because of recent years’ hurricanes in the area. The hurricane strikes in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and the recent cyclone that devastated Myanmar, he said, had also prompted both outpourings of charity and reflections upon what is important in life.
“We have just begun another hurricane season – and two days into the season we have had already a named storm,” Bishop Wenski said. “For the next six months, we will be understandably more anxious every time a new tropical depression forms off the West African coast or in the Gulf.”
“Like the apostles in that storm tossed boast, in our fear we cry out: ‘Save us, Lord.’
“Yes, we rightly pray that God may spare us from nature’s fury. But, in the face of trial and tribulation, we also ask God to strengthen our faith by calming the storms of anxiety and fear that rage within our hearts.”
Bishop Wenski said that Central Florida Catholic Charities is prepared for hurricane disaster response, but he also commented on the unreliability of insurance companies. “Given the precarious state of insurance policies in this State of Florida, we do well to pray to God that we be spared any serious storms this year,” he said.
The bishop emphasized that prayer is neither an excuse for complacency nor “some magical way” to force God to do our bidding. Rather, he said, “prayer brings us to place ourselves under God’s dominion and not the other way around. And recognizing God’s dominion – that he is in fact in charge of our lives – gives us confidence to face whatever challenges that lie before us with confidence and trust in his Divine Providence.
“While we pray that God keep the storms away this year, we, in the very act of prayer, also seek to keep our hearts turned to the Lord whatever may happen. In fact, if our hearts are sufficiently turned to the Lord, then we won’t need any calamities to teach us to keep our priorities straight. If our hearts are turned to the Lord, we won’t need the fury of nature to remind us of the brevity of life, or of the importance of persons over possessions.”