Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Not all the events and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy deal with devastation. God is with us even in those times, especially if we ask him to be.
Sometimes he even lets us know if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Sometimes the reminder is barely noticeable, but sometimes it’s eye-popping — and then some.
My town in Connecticut, well inland from the coast, lost power in Sandy’s early hours. The super-high winds uprooted stately trees, which in turn took out power lines and even — for the first time in a hurricane or storm here — made all main roads in this highly traveled area impassable.
My parish of St. Theresa Church on Main Street had no power, but that wasn’t going to stop the Masses. On Thursday, All Saints' Day, for the noon Mass, parishioners showed up as usual.
We walked into a darkened church, but, even from the vestibule, there was a warm glow from all the tall candles lighting up the sanctuary.
We started commenting right away about how beautiful it looked.
The peace and calm of the sanctuary was putting a smile on everyone's faces, maybe the first smile in a couple of days.
But God had just begun.
In our huge nave, we could “hear” the reverential hush and feel an atmosphere of prayer that was wrapping that peace around us.
A bit of light came into the nave from the stained-glass windows, while a half dozen or so votive candles dotted the first step into the sanctuary.
But the main lighting, what little there was of it in the dark church, came from the marble altar, high above the first level of the sanctuary and under a magnificent baldachino. The usual two candles were joined by two brass candelabras, adding another 14 points of light.
Directly behind the altar, two more candles glowed like angels on either side of the tabernacle.
The candlelight Mass at noon put everyone into a hushed awe. The Mass was without a doubt an anchor of hope for all parishioners.
Our young Polish priest announced that we’d have to listen closely since the microphone wasn’t working. We did.
As Father Karol began to project, with great reverence, the opening words of the prayer, “Glory to God in the highest,” all the lights in the church flashed on at once for the first time in several days!
They were like visual triumphant trumpet blares.
No kidding. It was a stunning, miraculous surprise. God said, "Let there be light." And there was.
Everybody let out a collective joyous gasp, and then we went on with the Gloria with renewed fervor: “and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you; we bless you; we adore you; we glorify you …”
We knew where the light came from: God was smiling on us, lightening our loads and lightening our hearts.
Enlightening us again that, despite the storms in life, he is the Light of the World — he is the true light of our lives.