For Sunday, May 19, 2013
Twenty miles long and two miles in width-that was the path of destruction left by the tornado that touched down south of Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday afternoon, the death toll had been revised downward from initial reports. Now twenty-four fatalities have been confirmed, nine of them children. There are at least 237 people injured. The search for survivors continues even as the risk of more tornados remains elevated in the region. Wind and rain are hampering the relief efforts.
The Web site of the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman, was filled with stories, notices, photos, and twitter feeds, relating to the tornado and its aftermath. For Oklahoma, there was no other story.
Of particular concern to many people was the destruction that took place at two elementary schools, Briarwood and Plaza Towers. Workers searched through the night at the flattened Plaza Towers Elementary School, hoping to find additional survivors. Officials are still trying to assemble a complete list so that they can account for all children and teachers.
As the winds subside, the task of clean-up and rebuilding will go forward. But as the people of Joplin, Missouri (which was devastated by an EF5 tornado just two years ago) can attest, the rebuilding does not happen overnight. In Joplin, the city's hospital and six schools were destroyed, along with many homes. Ironically, the Springfield News-Leader did a big story on Joplin's rebuilding on Monday, the same day that the tornado hit Oklahoma City.
In the aftermath of a mighty wind, the rebuilding can take a long, long time. As we celebrate Trinity Sunday this coming weekend, all three Scriptures for the day highlight the role of the Holy Spirit-our connection to the divine life of the Trinity.
The Pentecost event for believers was the mighty wind, though it comes upon us without the massive destruction. But the force of the Spirit does break down hard-heartedness, hatefulness, and ignorance of the needs of others. When the Spirit comes down, there is a lot of rebuilding that needs to be done. A Christian seized by and empowered with the Holy Spirit is not the same person that they were before. It may take a long time for the fullness of the Spirit's effects to be seen, just like it will take a long time for the renewal of Moore, Oklahoma. But the renewal happens.
As horrible as the tragedy of Monday's tornado was, we already see the efforts of so many to help out and care for one another. Here is the Spirit at work; here is God's love in action; here is the Trinity made manifest in the hearts of believers who reach out "because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts" (Romans 5:5).
Collect "For an End to Storms" The Roman Missal (c)2010 ICEL. All rights reserved.
HELPING TORNADO VICTIMS
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has set up a relief fund for the victims of the recent tornadoes. Share the information with parish members and other interested persons. Donations can be made through the Oklahoma City Catholic Charities Web site at: http://www.catholiccharitiesok.org/.
FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
The Catholic bishops of the United States are launching a second "Fortnight for Freedom" initiative of prayer, study, and public action. As it did last year, the event will take place from June 21 to July 4. You can discover the details and learn more about ways to involve your parish community at: http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/index.cfm.
VISIT TO A CEMETERY-MEMORIAL DAY
Many parishes will commemorate those who died in the armed forces on Monday, May 27. You may want to offer prayer cards or fliers to parish members to use on their own on that day. The LPi Art & Media Portal offers prayers and clip art that can be easily used to design a prayer card for Memorial Day. Use your parish's LPi Art & Media Portal account, or register for a free sample account here: http://www.4lpi.com/bulletinsandnewsletters/resourcestools/portal.