For a long time, I’ve been comforted by the fact that several days a week the people of the House of Prayer in Clearwater, Florida, are praying to the Trinity for our country. The Marian Servant community that runs this prayerful apostolate did it before the election and has continued after it. Whatever madness ensues, I have some peace knowing they are in front of the Blessed Sacrament and praying.
It’s because of the Marian Servants there that Father Norbert Maduzia popped up on my laptop screen during Hurricane Harvey in Texas. He’s the pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Spring, Texas, which is facing some severe repair work. I had “liked” St. Ignatius on Facebook, despite never having been there, after encountering him in Clearwater. He is a graduate of the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence’s school for Ignatian spiritual direction. It’s part of the House of Prayer “complex” (the word suggests much more wealth than it has, it’s got way more love than finances), and grants certification in Ignatian spirituality through a partnership with the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I love that mix at the heart of the Church: Mary, Ignatius, Francis.
My first year of the three-year certification program, Father Norbert generously took the notes of the recently deceased program founder, Ronald Novotny, and talked for a few nights about Mariology. A few things were immediately clear to me: this priest’s love of Mary; his gratitude for Ron, whom I never met but feel like I did through his living legacy: his family, friends and community around the spiritual-direction program; and his humility.
Fast forward to this summer. In a series of Facebook live videos, Father Norbert was able to communicate to parishioners who were able to get online and people anywhere else who were praying for the people of Houston and surrounding areas. His transparent experience of seeing the flooded church for the first time and yet clinging to the hope to which he has dedicated his life.
Fast forward another week. Clearwater was clearing out as forecasts had the eye of Hurricane Irma hitting the area. Panic easily could have set in as some of those Marian Servants went to visit family out of town, sparing the most important thing: life itself. And while everything they have built had to flash in front of their eyes as they walked through a crowded airport’s security, there was trust. Knowing these folks, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a confidence that God would keep an eye out for the House of Prayer. But more so: There was a trust that whatever storms arrived, God would provide.
In the end, Tampa and Clearwater weren’t hit as hard as predicted. And I can’t help but think there’s a lesson about prayer in all of this. If you believe in a providential view of history, there’s no coincidence about these two connections: That these two associations so drenched in prayer — storm or no storm — would pop up to the surface so unmistakably in recent weeks is both an invitation and a siren call to prayer. What is it that we need more of? What is it that we need to cling to? What is it that gets us going in the morning and should keep us moving throughout the day, giving thanks and examining how things could be better at the end of the day? The real answer isn’t “coffee” to any of these questions. It’s prayer. We need to be praying more for one another, for those recently facing devastation, for each one of us along the way, for our country and for trust in God alone, whatever is about to hit, and in the silence of the sunrise and sunset and daily routines, too.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review, and co-author of “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice” (OSV, $17.95).