It is easy to forget as we contemplate our growing mastery of the sciences and our technological prowess, but as Catholics, we believe that God governs the forces of nature through His ministers, the angels – specifically the choir of the Virtues:
Energy and strength are attributed to the Virtues. They have dominion over the elements; all nature is subjected to their control. Hence they can raise or appease the tempest. We may profitably invoke them in unforeseen accidents, sickness, etc.
In his book, Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Holy Angels, and Especially to the Angel-Guardians, the Abbe Boudon reminds us:
We have already observed that there are angels who have the care of the heavens, of the sun, of fire, of air, of the waters, of the earth, and even of the other creatures in the world; and the Angelic Doctor is of opinion that God employs the ministry of these heavenly spirits in all that He ordinarily works here below. It is through their instrumentality that the scourges of His divine justice are averted ; that fires and conflagrations are extinguished; that inundations subside; that pestilence is abated; that the air is purified; that lands become fertile; in fine, that we receive all sorts of good things, and are preserved from a multitude of evils, and all this often without our perceiving it, without our knowing the obligations we are under to the holy angels. Let us, then, to-day form a good resolution to thank them sometimes for these services, and to invoke them, and cause them to be invoked, by public and private prayers, in time of famine, war, or pestilence, as well as in other sicknesses and necessities; for fair weather, and for rain, for the fruits of the earth, and in all our various needs. We have also said that they are the protectors to whom we must have recourse in all things, and the most mighty whom Heaven has given us to destroy all the power of our adversaries.
It is with this in mind, then that we turn to the power of intercessory prayer, imploring God, His angels and His saints to protect us from harmful weather and forces of nature. Over at his blog, Fr. Z has posted an urgent action item regarding the hurricane(s) now barreling toward Florida. Considering how devastating Irma has been on its way through the Caribbean, I wanted to make sure the message was posted far and wide, so I’m excerpting it at length:
BISHOPS OF FLORIDA: Stand on the steps of your respective cathedral churches, dressed in cope and miter and, surrounded by clergy, with crosiers in hand, pronounce from the traditional Rituale Romanum the Litany of Saints with the deprecatory prayers against storms. [below] Ring the cathedral bells. You all talk to each other: perhaps coordinate your timing.
I know that in every chancery of Florida, at least one person reads this blog, probably more. Readers, especially if you know your bishops personally, ask them to do this.
PRIESTS OF FLORIDA: Ditto. Also, if you have blessed bells, ring the bells of your churches against the storm. Bells are sacramentals. They are “baptized” and given names. They speak. In valleys of mountainous countries, as storms approached, people would ring the bells and pray the Litany.
PEOPLE OF FLORIDA: Get on your priests about this. The prayers of priests and bishop are powerful. Also, ask your holy angels to protect you and to help you make prudent decisions.
Use the old Roman Ritual – it’s the real deal – and pray the Litany with the deprecatory prayers against storms. A procession could be done around the grounds of the cathedral or even indoors… even with a very few.
You don’t have to be directly in the line of the storm to pray for others!
PROCESSION FOR AVERTING TEMPEST [Better in Latin, but here is the English from Sancta Missa.]
The church bells are rung, and all who can assemble in church. Then the Litany of the Saints is said, in which the following invocation is said twice:
From lightning and tempest, Lord, deliver us.
At the end of the litany the following is added:
P: Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
P: Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise your God, O Sion.
All: For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; * He has blessed your children within you.
P: He has granted peace in your borders; * with the best of wheat He fills you.
All: He sends forth His command to the earth; * swiftly runs His word!
P: He spreads snow like wool; * He strews frost like ashes.
All: He scatters His hail like crumbs; * the waters freeze before His cold.
P: He sends His word and melts them; * He lets His breeze blow and the waters run.
All: He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, * His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
P: He has not done thus for any other nation; * He has not made known His ordinances to them.
All: Glory be to the Father.
P: As it was in the beginning.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: Lord, show us your mercy.
All: And grant us your salvation.
P: Help us, O God, our Savior.
All: And deliver us, O Lord, for your name’s sake.
P: Let the enemy have no power over us.
All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm us.
P: May your mercy, Lord, remain with us always.
All: For we put our whole trust in you.
P: Save your faithful people, Lord.
All: Bless all who belong to you.
P: You withhold no good thing from those who walk in sincerity.
All: Lord of hosts, happy the men who trust in you.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
God, who are offended by our sins but appeased by our penances, may it please you to hear the entreaties of your people and to turn away the stripes that our transgressions rightly deserve.
We beg you, Lord, to repel the wicked spirits from your family, and to ward off the destructive tempestuous winds.
Almighty everlasting God, spare us in our anxiety and take pity on us in our abasement, so that after the lightning in the skies and the force of the storm have calmed, even the very threat of tempest may be an occasion for us to offer you praise.
Lord Jesus, who uttered a word of command to the raging tempest of wind and sea and there came a great calm; hear the prayers of your family, and grant that by this sign of the holy cross all ferocity of the elements may abate.
Almighty and merciful God, who heal us by your chastisement and save us by your forgiveness; grant that we, your suppliants, may be heartened and consoled by the tranquil weather we desire, and so may ever profit from your gracious favors; through Christ our Lord.
He sprinkles the surroundings with holy water.
Please pray for those who have already lost home, property, and life by these storms, and all those who are about to face the same. May God grant poor sinners in the path of this storm the grace of conversion, and should any more perish, a happy death.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.