No, this is not another apocalyptic post, talking about how monumental this upcoming election will be, and proclaiming it as the most monumental event in American or human history.
Yes, the election is important. Key issues will be decided by whom is elected to a wide variety of offices.
But your voting decision, however important it may be, is nothing close to being the most consequential thing you can do this week.
Here in the New York metropolitan area, we have been hit with a natural disaster that we have never experienced before. The level of human suffering — that is to say, very real suffering by individual human persons — is heart-wrenching. Even apart from the terrible loss of life and property, we see all around us elderly and sick people who are cold, hungry, scared, and lost.
So here is the first thing that we can do: help.
Perhaps you have a neighbor who’s out of power, and you can offer a hot meal or a loaned flashlight. Maybe you could go shopping for an elderly person who’s homebound. The opportunities are endless, if we just look out for them. The Lord wants us to think that way — just remember Matthew 25.
Peggy and I are Red Cross volunteers. We spent 48 hours this week working in a Red Cross shelter during the height of the hurricane, and we’ll be back in another one this weekend. This isn’t complicated work — it’s providing a dry, warm refuge for people to get their lives and feelings back together, offering a hot cup of coffee or a snack, and letting little kids have a place to play. There are lots of ways to help — if you can volunteer, please consider doing so (if not for this disaster then in anticipation of the next one), or perhaps a donation may be possible. Catholic Charities and other agencies will also need help in the long run with recovery efforts.
The second consequential thing that we can do: pray.
One of the hardest parts of recovering from a disaster is the sense of loss, depression, and hopelessness. Please pray for the grace of strength among those who are struggling, and for those who are helping them.
May I suggest that you consider a special prayer to Our Blessed Mother, who is always our hope in our difficulties? Here’s my favorite one:
We fly to thy patronage,
O holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from every danger,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.
You know that Our Lady is looking with compassion on those in need. Perhaps the best thing I can do is leave you with an image, captured by a photographer who visited the rubble of Breezy Point, Queens. This picture speaks volumes about Our Mother of Mercy, and how she is looking out for us in times of trouble: