How to deal with disaster
The words of the prophet Joel were first spoken in a day of terrible calamity.
These words also foreshadow a day when all things on this earth will end.
For those of us who live somewhere in between those two days of Doom, these words give us lessons of guidance and hope in the disasters that we ourselves may sometime face.
The first lesson is that it is okay to feel bad when things are bad, but that it is even more important to turn to God.
Gird yourselves and weep, O priests!
wail, O ministers of the altar!
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
The house of your God is deprived
of offering and libation.
Proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the elders,
all who dwell in the land,
Into the house of the LORD, your God,
and cry to the LORD!
The second lesson is that even in the worst calamities, God is still present and no matter what we may have to suffer he makes all things work for the good of those who love him.
Alas, the day!
for near is the day of the LORD,
and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all who dwell in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming;
Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!
Sinners that we are, living in a twisted world, there will indeed be much dread when we stand before the infinite perfection and goodness of God.
These words of the prophet would be echoed centuries later in the classic chant Dies Irae
solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sybilla.
A day of wrath, that day --
The world will dissolve in ashes,
As David and the Sibyl testify.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus.
What dread there will be
When the judge shall come
To judge all things strictly.
* * * * *
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?
What then shall I say, wretch that I am,
What advocate entreat to speak for me,
When even the righteous may hardly be secure?
Recordare Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae,
ne me perdas illa die.
Remember, O dear Jesus,
That I am the cause of Thy pilgrimage.
Do not forsake me on that day.