What can we do when disaster strikes? One of the best things, probably, is to put our faith, love and hope into action.
The Philippines has been battered by natural calamities one after the other lately — a major earthquake and almost consecutive tropical storms and typhoons (including a super one) have left many, many people in desperate situations. Collectively, millions of Filipinos have been affected by the aforementioned series of events. Those who are still living in tents, displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan, have recently been subject to even more typhoons.
One may be led to wonder: Where is God in all this? Why doesn’t He hear the prayers of His people, especially those who are in most need? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do know that God knows what He’s about.
I also know this: Disaster or no disaster, the Church has been responding to the need of God’s people here in the Philippines. In a Catholic News Service report on a recent meeting among the Philippines’ Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Australia, Cardinal Tagle is mentioned as saying that “natural disasters are the norm” for the Philippines and that “he has come to see how important local parishes have become in offering shelter and becoming centers for sanitation and hygiene, the distribution of food and support for displaced people.”
Still, the road to healing is still very long. Cardinal Tagle said that “recovery and rebuilding is likely to take years because the devastation was so great, reaching across 12 dioceses in the central part of the country with the Palo Archdiocese and Borongon Diocese experiencing the most serious damage. In some locales, 90 percent of buildings and homes — more than 550,000 in all — were smashed into matchsticks.”
As of this writing, the U.S. delegation — which includes Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — is here in the Philippines on a fact-finding trip to see how else the Catholic Church in the U.S. can help our Filipino brothers and sisters. It is a welcome sign of how we are united in faith, and how we are putting this faith in action.
Although the recovery and rebuilding process is long, we in the Philippines are continuously grateful for the help and support of the international community, especially our “family in the Faith.” It is because of the love, prayers and material assistance of people like you who are reading this that those in need are able to weather the storms that life may bring and keep the faith.
If you feel moved to continue extending help to the people in the Philippines who need it the most, below are some ways by which you can do so:
- Pray. There is power in prayer and miracles have been known to happen when God’s people come together in prayer. Pray for those in need, those who are helping them and for more people to help. Offer up novenas, Rosaries and Masses not just for those in the Philippines but for every single person who is suffering.
- Act. Even little acts of kindness go a long way. Raise funds, donate, spread the word about relief efforts — all these actions put together can make a big difference in the lives of others. For concrete ways to share your material blessings, you may want to consider donating to Caritas Philippines or Catholic Relief Services. You may also ask your local diocese or parish about ways to help out.
Ultimately, how we choose to help others isn’t as important as why we do so. Let us always remember what Scripture says:
Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.
— 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
What have you been doing to help those in need (not necessarily from the Philippines)? Come share about it in the comments so that others may also be inspired to do the same.
Copyright 2014 Tina Santiago-Rodriguez