Found on Twitter: “Crystal Jaramillo and Trey Jones of Texas City say they’ve rescued about 22 people in their kayak.”

Whatever I might have said about anything else today has been swept away by Hurricane Harvey. A lot of what happened in the aftermath of Katrina had a lot to do with infrastructure issues, like the levees giving way, which in no way lessens the horrors. Harvey was just a full on beast of a storm that would seem to resist any definition.

I keep thinking of those who fled New Orleans after Katrina; many ended up in Houston. And many of that number stayed as they could not bear to return. And now this – how they must feel!

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So today, in addition to some photos that I have found that illustrate how we help one another, I will add some places to donate. My number one choice is always Catholic Charities USA or its local affiliate; it matters not, the funnel all empties into the same place. CC helps everyone, asking no questions of faith, only assessing need. And responding. When I say they help everyone, that means everyone.

If for some reason you do not wish to donate to them, here are two other alternatives, one Lutheran and one Episcopalian.  And I will add one more – the Jewish Federation. All have the same policies – no questions asked, other than to assess needs. Another group that will need donations is Habitat for Humanity… I suspect a lot of houses will need to be built.

Catholic Charities link is here.

ECLA link is here.

Episcopal relief link is here.

Jewish Federation link is here.

Habitat for Humanity link is here.

Whatever you do – please do something. Feel like your $5, heck – your $1 is not enough? Imagine if every person in the US gave $1 or $5! The results would be startling. And if you can do more… well, then please do more.

Whatever you choose this day, please do one thing. Help. Please.


Why? The Haitian Earthquake Disaster

Even the most ardent Christian may stop to ask “why?” when faced with suffering beyond imagining.  Even Jesus asked that the cup be taken from him in his moment of despair in the garden.

One of the reasons many people scoff at religion is because they believe that God causes suffering. That is far too much a topic to take on today and I am reminded that for those who need an explanation, none is generally acceptable and for others, no explanation is necessary.

Certainly Haiti has already faced monstrous despair beyond what most of us can imagine. Maybe you read my post about our visit from the Food for the Poor priest, Father Bob. It is gut wrenching to consider the plight of Haiti on the best of  days.

Now it is beyond the beyond.

There is a spectrum of human response. I do not mean to knock anyone, but when someone who has the audience that Pat Robertson has, it seems unconscionable to suggest that this has to do with a pact with the devil. Frankly, as Catholics, that is pretty theologically far from what we believe. In any event, if people are suffering, even if we are helping them, does it do any good to have this kind of discussion? I do not believe that it does.

The other end of the spectrum has people saying that there is no God, or that if God exists, He is cruel. And there are those who would say that saying that we are holding the Haitians in our prayers is a waste of time and not helpful to the Haitians. To each their own, but I am not really sure what the point of that kind of talk is.

In the heart of the disaster you don’t stop to talk about this kind of stuff – you get out there and do what you can. At least that is what an appropriate Christian response should be. If you are not sure, please consider referencing the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan, just for starters.

Catholic Relief Services is on the ground in Haiti… And they have been for a very long time. Another Catholic charity is Hands Together. They are based in Western Massachusetts and they came to speak at our parish in July 2008. They could use your help if you want to donate to them instead of, or along with a donation to CRS. There are many ways to donate.

Our Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, is asking for help from the Catholics of Albany.  If you are in this diocese, please expect a second collection request at mass this weekend. Many of us are challenged at this point, but give what you can, if you can! No amount is too small.

My friend Paul Snatchko wrote a really good piece today, addressing the “why?”

Considering the tragedy that has taken place in Haiti, the final verse of the Psalm at Mass today stings:

“Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth.”


It’s the question of the day.

Why does God permit the earth to rumble beneath us?

Why did God permit the earth to move under Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas?

Go read the whole thing – you won’t be disappointed.

And pray, and give and share links and do what you can.

And be thankful today. Even if things are rough, you probably had food today, a roof over your head and a pillow to lay your head on.

We all remember someone very important to us, who did not always have the basics either, yet we trust Him for everything and just celebrated that potentially roofless, pillowless place, not so long ago.