By Br. Eric Wandrey, LC
The past few weeks have been intense. Hurricane Sandy blasted the Tri-State region and the elections turned out badly. Here in Rome, I have been removed from the hype and hoopla, but from what I have read online, it is clear that, regarding the election, America is currently divided between those who are intensely elated and those who are upset and intensely worried.
Since Tuesday, I have been praying a lot and mulling over what this all means. So many US voters endorsed leaders and referenda with clearly un-Christian values. What does this mean for America? Are we severed beyond repair from our Christian roots? Are we facing irreversible cultural decline?
Every Thursday night, we have a Eucharistic Hour, during which one of the brothers offers a reflection to the whole community. This past Thursday, Br Francois spoke to us about Christ’s calming of the sea, and referred to Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.
After the Eucharistic Hour, I went to take a good look at a replica that we have in our seminary. I noticed two striking contrasts. First, the painting is mostly dark and stormy, but not entirely so. In the upper left-hand corner, the sun is already shining and the clouds are breaking. This light-dark contrast echoes and accentuates the contrast between Christ and his apostles. His apostles are frantic and desperate. Some are futilely struggling to save the boat, while others are cowering in fear. Yet, Christ himself is calm and luminous. After being awakened, he serenely rebuked the wind and calmed the storm.
Today, we had a half-day silent retreat. The weather outside was unusually windy and stormy, so the preacher’s talks were punctuated by loud claps of thunder, and we could hear the rain pounding on the roof. After the last meditation, I was on my way to the chapel for midday prayers when I was surprised by something that I had never seen before. Although it was pouring rain, the sun was shining. I went to the roof of our dorm to take a picture of the interesting phenomenon, and I discovered another surprise: a gorgeous rainbow.
There have been a lot of big headlines in the past weeks, but there is one important event that did not make it into many papers. On the morning of Thursday, October 11th, Pope Benedict officially inaugurated the “Year of Faith.” Is it a coincidence that God is already allowing faith-testing events only weeks into this special year? Why did God allow Hurricane Sandy to hit New York – the capital of the modern world? Perhaps to remind us that we cannot place our faith in the works of man but in Him alone?
These are stormy times, but Christ is in the boat with us – we are His Church, His Mystical Body. When the time is right, He will calm the storm. Until then, we need to heed Christ’s admonition: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.” (Luke 8:50)
When will Christ calm the storm? We can’t know for sure, but when he does, I bet there will be an awesome rainbow.