What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: October 18, 2007
One of our priests, Kevin Peek, told me last Saturday afternoon: “Archbishop, my dad recently reminded me for the third time to suggest to you that you ask our people to pray for rain!” I am very glad that Kevin and, even more so, that his dad made the suggestion for all of us to ask God to send us rain. The drought has gotten dangerous enough for us to consider asking the Lord Himself to assist us in this serious need that we have as a region. I should have remembered from my own 11-year experience in the largely rural Diocese of Belleville that farmers whose livelihood depends upon the weather elements are people of deep faith who regularly turn to the Lord for help in facing the challenges that come to them from nature.
For the past several months we have repeatedly been reminded that Georgia is in the midst of an increasingly severe drought. The weather reports continue to reiterate the fact of the deficit of rain that has grown more obvious with each passing week. The increasing restrictions on the use of water have grown starker. In spite of our efforts to conserve water, it is clear that we need rain in addition to our efforts to save this precious resource.
The Sacramentary contains an official prayer asking God for rain, and I doubt that any priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta has ever used this prayer before—I know that I have not used it in my 34 years of Priesthood. Now seems to be a good time to turn to the heritage of Faith that belongs to the Church and to offer the Mass prayers beseeching God Himself to send the rain that we all so desperately need.
The Catholic Church has a long heritage of inviting people to reverence and respect nature as we bless the fields and the seeds in the springtime at the moment of planting, and then give thanks in those same fields as we gather in the harvest. We bless the boating fleets as they begin the annual fishing season. We even ask God’s blessing on animals on or near the feast of St. Francis of Assisi who, according to tradition, had a close and reverential association with all types of animals.
Nature is part of God’s creation and in the early chapters of Genesis, human beings were entrusted with caring for all of creation and respecting the earth that God had made for us and that we are to care for and pass on to the generations that succeed us.
I therefore ask each priest to consider offering the Mass text that is found in the Sacramentary under “Masses for Various Needs and Occasions” #35 for Rain during the course of the next few weeks to beg the Lord of all creation to send us the rain that we need. This Mass may be offered on any day that does not have an assigned feast.
I invite all Catholics to include in your personal prayers an intention for rain so that the earth that we are entrusted with will be spared even greater damage. Parishes may also include petitions in the prayer of the faithful asking for an end to the drought that has caused all of us not only inconvenience, but even more importantly a reason to turn humbly to the Lord who created the heavens and the earth for the help that His love and providence can provide for us all.