Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The violent storm on the Sea of Galilee was traumatizing. The apostles were terrified, close to perishing.  When Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still,” there was a great calm. In place of trauma, the apostles were filled with wonder and said, “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?”  

Down the centuries the story of Jesus quieting the violent storm has given Christians courage to bear life’s traumas with trust in God.  For example, the monks who sailed from Ireland to Dubuque in January, 1850, also ran into stormy weather. The severe pitching of the ship on the Atlantic Ocean caused Br. Hilarion to fall and break his collar bone; Br. Anselm badly sprained his leg; an eighteen-year-old sailor was swept overboard and drowned; one of the monks became so sick that he died and was buried in the waters of the mid-Atlantic.  At last, after many days, the storm ended and they sailed peacefully through the lovely Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico into the Mississippi Delta.  Suddenly another storm with the force of a hurricane tore away the sails and swept their ship back into the Gulf.  When that storm passed, their ship had to be towed by a steamer to New Orleans.  Then, traveling up the mighty Mississippi River by steamboat they passed the graves of the six monks who died of cholera on that same journey a few months earlier.  Finally, the monks arrived at New Melleray in mid-April, four months after leaving Mount Melleray. In spite of their traumatic experiences, they were not discouraged but eager to begin their monastic life in this new land.   

Were their traumas over?  No.  The wooden building they lived in was poorly insulated, freezing in winter, unbearably hot in the summer.  For the next two years their wheat and potato crops were complete failures.  They had to sell one hundred and twenty acres of land to buy food and other necessities.  The Prior, Fr. Francis, took a steamboat back to St. Louis to solicit donations.  One night, about two A.M. he felt a terrific crash. The boat he was on had been rammed in the darkness by another, larger steamboat.  Prior Francis was knocked onto the deck of the other boat, severely injuring his foot.  Thirty other passengers drowned in the wreckage and the churning waters.  It took the Prior several months to recover and return to New Melleray. And if these traumas weren’t enough to try one’s soul, the monks had the added burdens of heavy manual labor and wretched food.  Their dinners consisted of turnip-water with milk, potatoes and bread.  But because of their perseverance and trust in God New Melleray is here today.  We are suffering new trials, the lack of vocations. Will we be here tomorrow?  I don’t know, but I am confident that no calamity can separate us from the love of God and the promise of eternal happiness.