Learning from disaster

I watched with measures of horror and sympathy the TV coverage of the aftermath from the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  I am sure all of you will offer prayers for the people there and perhaps also find other concrete ways to help them.

What I found interesting from the coverage, however, were a couple of snippets from CNN.

For example, a CNN reporter asks a fellow who has lost everything what he is going to do now.  Without missing a beat, the man said “Pray.”

In another example, the same CNN reporter says to the governor “the country’s pulling for you”.  The governor responded, “Thanks for the prayers.”

Apparently the separation of church and… all of public life has not taken place in Oklahoma.

Out here in fly-over country the first reaction of those suffering from the storm damage has not been to ask “When is the government going to help us?”

We Catholics in some areas of the country, perhaps in areas more heavily Catholic than Oklahoma, should take some notes.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    I noticed the same thing, Fr. Z. The state and local officials. law enforcement and the residents affected by the tornado often referred to God in thanksgiving. Then there’s the MSM from NY, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. who arrive with their atheism and seem shocked by the acts of faith they observe in the face of natural disaster. Obama’s stupid comment about Americans who “get bitter . . . and cling to their guns or religion” comes to mind.

  2. CatholicMD says:

    This is my home state. The same outpouring of faith and compassion were present after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building and the May 3, 1999 tornado. Oklahomans are a faithful people and truly the salt of the earth. I have no doubt that in the coming days you will see the people of Oklahoma following the admonition of St. Paul to overcome Evil with Good. Blessed John Paul II taught that God allows Evil so that an ocean of Mercy can come forth. Lord Jesus Christ, for the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole, and particularly on the people of Oklahoma. Amen.

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    Looks like Drudge might be reading Fr. Z……http://www.drudgereport.com/ “We Need Prayers”

  4. StJude says:

    I notice the same thing… although not weird to me living in fly over Indiana… we pray.
    Greta had an Oklahoma man on last night who thanked God over and over. I love people like that.

    Yesterday I was reading an online news report of the tornado’s and somebody wrote in the comments..”Where’s your god now?”… so I responded by saying God is everywhere .. look at the first responder’s, the neighbors comforting neighbors, the thousands of people rushing to help, the people digging through rubble. … I was flagged for ‘offensive comment”.

  5. PA mom says:

    Re tornados. I find Protestants to be very inspiring in their lack of inhibitions about their faith. Have been praying for them, so tragic.

  6. LarryW2LJ says:

    You know back in the Olden Days, when things like this would happen, those “midieval superstitious folk” would look upon events like these as the wrath of God. I know that , as a society, we’ve “grown beyond” (one of Fr. Z’s favorite phrases) that and a majority believe that our loving God doesn’t deliberately send calamities such as these just because there is sin, like in the days Sodom and Gomorrah.

    But ya know, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing for a majority of secular folks in this country to consider events like these a wake up call. I for one, don’t presume to have the intelligence to be able to comprehend the Will of God. But in my humble and somewhat simple minded opinion, if He’s trying to tell us something, He’s not going to do it through CNN. I think we need to reflect a little bit more on the “signs of the times”.

    Perfoming acts of penance and praying for forgiveness, not only for ourselves, but for our country is never a bad thing.

  7. chantgirl says:

    Does anyone know if there is a local Catholic Church there to which we could send donations for the people who were affected? I hate giving to larger organizations because you just never know if the money makes it to the people who really need it.

  8. CatholicMD says:

    St Andrew’s is the local parish in Moore. They were using it as a rendezvous point last night. I would not hesitate to give to the Red Cross though. They have the infrastructure to mobilize aid quickly and efficiently.

  9. av8er says:

    Stayed in Moore last year while in OKC for training. Went to St. Andrew’s while I was there. Big community very nice people. May they all find strength in God.

  10. One group I like to donate to is Team Rubicon.

  11. Wade says:

    I would also not hesitate to donate via Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City! They are providing long-term disaster relief services to the tornado victims. You can find a link for making an online donation on their face book page.

  12. Will D. says:

    Further to Wade’s post, here’s a direct link to the Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City: http://catholiccharitiesok.org/

  13. LarryW2LJ says:

    Fr. Z,

    I do believe that Rush might use your blog for show prep. I was just listening whiledriving back to work from lunchbreak, and he ran a 5 minute segment complete with sound bytes that paralleled the subject matter of this post.

  14. LaxMom25 says:

    We had “The Voice” on last night with one of the remaining competitors being the Swan Brothers, who are from Oklahoma. The show was encouraging donations, etc., for the victims. When asked how Oklahoma was/would manage, one of the Swan brothers said, “Oklahoma is a praying state,” and that they would get through this. It was a very touching testimony to the faithful people there.

  15. Giuseppe says:

    I still struggle with why God (causes/allows) disasters to happen. Is it never our place to judge God’s will. I pray for the victims and beg God’s mercy.

  16. Suz. from Oklah. says:

    Not only is Oklahoma a praying state, but it’s a helping state. A news channel will put out a request for bottled water, gloves, trash bags, etc. and then a few hours later, they’ll tell everyone to stop bringing those items–they have plenty. The lines are long at every donation center of people wanting to give and help. The Red Cross even said they have plenty of blood donations. This happens every time there is a disaster here. And, we have had a lot of disasters. But, mostly, no one is afraid to say a prayer–even on T.V.–even the reporters.

    I mentioned this to someone on facebook today about Oklahoma and tornadoes. We aren’t called “Tornado Alley” for nothing. On May 24th our small FSSP Parish (St. Damien of Molokai) had 5 families lose their homes to a tornado. The tornado acted like a pinball machine–our parishioners are very spread out–no one lives close to one another–yet this tornado managed to hit them all and flattened their homes–it wasn’t a widespread tornado, either. 2 little boys from our parish died that day from the tornado hit.

    The house where we live right now was built in 2000. A year before, May 3rd 1999, the previous house on this foundation was destroyed. We were living in Anadarko/Chichasha area at that time where several (there were 77 that day in Oklahoma) tornadoes originated and killed several in Moore that year.

    On June 13th, 1998, I was in the hospital after giving birth to my second child. We were evacuated (women in labor and EVERYONE) into the center of the 4th floor birthing center because there was a tornado right in front of the hospital–it crossed Lake Hefner and apparently, was a sight to see as all the dads were at the window with camcorders recording it.

    So, yes, we’re a praying state. It’s no coincidence that EVERYONE either has been hit or knows someone whose property has been destroyed or has lost a loved one to a tornado in this state.

  17. e.e. says:

    The news showed some cell phone video footage that a man in Moore took emerging from his storm shelter. He does a panoramic shot of his surroundings, without saying a word. Everything is gone and flattened as far as his camera can see… And the only words this man says were: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.”

    That really struck me.

    We are praying here for those affected by these tornadoes.

  18. NoraLee9 says:

    ee, I saw that video too. I am shocked and appalled by all the vicious comments folks have left regarding the faith. I am further shocked that our own St. Jude was flagged for standing up to one of these humans. Tolerance only goes one way, I guess.
    Father, as always, you are right. We need to put our faith where are mouths are. As for the government riding in to the rescue, well. Haha. Sandy took the roof off of my patio, as well as one of the doors. FEMA came, looked, said they’d probably send a check, and then denied me by mail. In the mean time, those of us who have to pay in cash for repairs can’t get a handyman to come because they all have too much work. I had to literally beg someone to install my air conditioner on Monday.
    Compared to an F5 tornado, not really a big deal!
    All in all, when stuff like this takes place, Matthew 24 always comes to mind.
    The end may not be near, but it certainly has appeared in the distant horizon.

  19. Woodlawn says:

    Fr. Z said: “Apparently the separation of church and… all of public life has not taken place in Oklahoma.”

    acardnal said: “The state and local officials. law enforcement and the residents affected by the tornado often referred to God in thanksgiving. ”

    Check out Pentecost Sunday at St. Titus Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania:

    I was also impressed by the way Oklahomans have expressed themselves in the wake of this tornado.

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