Sunday, August 28, 2011

In Maine, Celebrating Mass in a Time of Hurricane

In the pouring rain this morning, my girlfriend dropped my family off at St. John's Catholic Church in downtown Bangor, Maine before parking her van and joining us. My husband and I had spent a fitful night, worrying while it rained on the deck outside our bedroom about Hurricane Irene heading up the East Coast. On neighbors' Facebook pages, we have seen pictures of our hometown in New Jersey, with its swollen river, downed trees and flooded roads and bridges.

Inside, the church welcomed us, a sanctuary of calm and light in the storms raging outside and within our hearts. The Mass we attended was also filled almost to capacity with worshipers. The church itself was beautiful, dating from 1855. The parish was celebrating the ordination yesterday of two new deacons. A chamber choir chanted the liturgy with us. What beautiful signs of God's grace among us.

Today's Gospel reading reminded me of the centrality of Christ as we journey toward our destinies. "'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me."

In his homily, the priest reminded us of the sacrifices we all must make in our vocations. He reminded us that whatever crosses we carry as followers of Christ, He is present always, easing our burdens. The priest spoke to us too, about the role of permanent deacons, and of the formidable faith of St. Stephen the Martyr and St. Lawrence of Rome, both deacons. He told the story of a young man in a nearby parish who had died in February in a snowmobile accident. A sports star and popular high school student, the teenager had made a point of sitting during lunch in the cafeteria with students who otherwise would have eaten alone.

These stories fortified and calmed me. It is reassuring to know that others have gone before us, weathering their own storms with faith.


  1. Hope you guys can get back to normal soon in your town! Happy Travels!

  2. What a great comparison to draw...the church as being a sanctuary from the literal storm and faith as being a sanctuary from the figurative storms of life. The hurricane has long since passed, but I hope it didn't leave you all with too much damage.

  3. I love old churches. Heart warming story.

  4. It's also heartwarming to know the church itself has weathered storms for a hundred or more years. Wait. Math. MORE THAN 100 years. There. Better. Your writing was laced with the peace you felt that day, and that was lovely to read.

  5. Hmmmm... 2,000 years. And thank you!