Mobile, AL (WKRG)
Father Chris Boutin from St. Dominic Catholic Church in Mobile talks about keeping your faith in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: This week we’ve seen an unprecedented level of flooding and destruction on the Texas coast. That’s one of the things we wanted to talk about this week. A question a lot of people of faith might have is how does a loving God let things like that happen? What do you say when people come to you with that question?
Guest: First off, our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Texas this week and all those that have been suffering greatly from the Hurricane Harvey. This is a common question. If God is all good and all powerful, then when is there great suffering in the world? Couldn’t he stop it? To answer this question I turn to the St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. We read in the book of Genesis in the very first lines that God created everything in the world and he called it good. The earth remains good and the physical elements remain good, but they are capable of great destruction as well. The physical elements of fire help us warm ourselves and cook our food, but it can also burn down forests and your home. Water gives us life and quenches our thirst. In makes us Children of God by baptism, but it is also capable of great destruction. We know this all too well from the story of Noah and this week with Hurricane Harvey. We hear that man was in accord with God and all his creation in the first couple of chapters in Genesis, but through our fall, sin entered the world and put us astray from God and all his creation. St. Paul is in agreement as well, ““We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” (Romans 8:22) This is why we turn Christ as our mediator, as he has redeemed all of creation and brought it back into communion with the creator. We still suffer the effects of the fall, but it has truly been redeemed. Suffering is not in vain
Chad: How is faith important even in times when people lose everything?
Guest: It is extremely important. It allows us to find meaning in the great trials of life. As people lose their things and people that are most dear to them, it is a reminder that the world is temporary. But even if we feel abandoned and suffer great tragedy, God is with us in our loss and pain. He is present among us in the most difficult moments of life
Chad: How do you keep from losing your faith in the face of so much devastation?
Guest: As a priest, I’m blessed to be with so many people in joyous occasions. Baptisms, weddings, the repentant thief in the confessional, and celebrations of the mass. I also am with people in very difficult moments of life. Even in the difficult moments, I see the hand of God working and the love being poured out by others. Those that are there to comfort. We have seen a tremendous response and the outpouring of support by so many in our country that are traveling to Texas to help those suffering greatly. God’s goodness shines forth in the direst of circumstances.
Chad: When it comes to disasters like Harvey, what do you pray for?
Guest: That people do not lose hope. That they know God is in the midst of the storm. That beautiful image of Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm. He walks on the waters of chaos in our life and calms the storm when things are at their worst. And that gives me such hope.
Chad: We’ve seen some of the best of America too in the response to the storm damage. Whether intentional or not–how does the holy spirit work through people who respond to a disaster?
Guest: The Holy Spirit does not work in a vacuum. Prayer gives us the ability as the People of God to rise up and act. The Spirit is always associated with a fire of love. That same fire emboldens us to get out of our comfort zone, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.
Chad: What should people remember when things seem hopeless like in Texas and Louisiana this week?
Guest: Christ is with us. Suffering does not have the final say. We unite ourselves to Christ crucified because by uniting ourselves to Christ crucified, we become united with him in his resurrection. And Texas and Louisiana will be resurrected because the tomb is empty. We’ve got that going for us, and that’s not bad.