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August 31, 2005


G Shroff

Amy: the link at the top takes one to an interview with NoLa mayor Nagin. I tried searching unsuccessfully on the cnn website for the transcript of the interview with Raymond Arroyo, but I'm in a hurry.


G Shroff:

The interview with Arroyo is about midway through the transcript; scroll down about halfway on the page, and you'll find it.

Absolutely devastating. God bless Raymond Arroyo, his family, and all the others suffering in their losses.


I think I need to take a break from any sort of media today.

The devastation found in video and photos is almost too much to bear.

Today I will write a check and take a break to walk in my garden and pray.

psalm 41

Yes, God bless all the people that had the wherewithal to get out, especially the wealthy individual that paid over $3000 for a cab to drive him and his family to Chicago; but may God particularly bless those who didn't have the resources, the connections, or the means to evacuate. It is disturbing to witness on TV the looting, the loss of dignity, and the greed, but I think that is miniscule compared to the greed of us as a nation. Mightn't God be enraged by our sinful greed and self-indulgence, and be punishing us? Yet we will keep on in our willful ways. Is. 57:17.


In a sense God speaks to us through everything that happens on this earth. But it's pure foolishness to attribute this disaster to some sort of divine retribution for "our sinful greed and self-indulgence."

Christ is risen! The age of natural disasters as Old Testament chastisements is over. The suffering people in Louisiana and Mississippi are God's precious children. And if God is telling us something through all this, it is that we need to help them.


It's time to start quoting Kipling's "Natural Theology", folks. The only sin that New Orleans is being punished for is the "sin" of building on low ground, or of not maintaining levees. The first is history's fault; the second is... well, it's a bit late to point fingers, especially as this is a democratic society.

Look for the beam in your own city's eye before you start dissing New Orleans.


Thank you, Maureen. Very nicely put.

scotch meg

Is this the sort of situation where we can form a chain of refuge? There are people on this blog from all over, and refugees from NO who need shelter for the medium term -- it's hard for us to send money, but we could put up another family in our home, and have friends who could do so, too. Is there a way through the Diocese, or through parishes, to set up a "Catholic Railroad" and get people to places where they can stay until the situation is more settled? Staying in a hotel just won't work for families for any length of time. I know this is a long post -- I'm trying to think out loud -- you know, someone in southern Arkansas can keep people for a night and pass them on to someone in Tennessee, and then on to Virginia, and then on to Pennsylvania, and so on, and when they get to Massachusetts we can pass them on to Maine, and at each place, there is room for at least a few families to be hosted on a lengthier basis? How would we get something like that started? If NO is in such a mess that it can't be safe for a family for months, the children need to be somewhere else, somewhere they can run and play and go to school.


Thank you for all your concern. I live in Lafayette which is about 2 hours west of NO. The situation there is so bad, one doesn't know how to express the grief. Our city has taken in so many refugees that they are now opening up the "Cajundome" which can hold about 13000 people to put these displaced people, not to mention many other places in this area. So many locals applied to volunteer they had to turn them away yesterday. Our local university is opening up for students from NO that want to go there this semester. The phone situation is terrible. My cell is on ROAM always and we cannot receive any calls on them. No one is able to get through to our home most of the time. Not to complain but multiply this by thousands and the effects from Katrina are going to be felt very very far away. Pray, pray, pray for our state and our beloved New Orleans!!!! It is a very sad time in La.

chris K

I guess the practical in me is too naive for the real situation, but....if reporters can get to and stand with the crowds gathering on high points such as that interstate-looking highway, and interview an 80 year old man who, like the rest there, needs water (esp. since the heat is in the middle nineties today), why can't bottled water be gotten there? I mean I've watched planes drop stuff to put out forest fires, why can't nets of bottled water be helicoptered over these large groups of people? Why can't planes fly over with banners instructing the people how to get to the buses coming to the Super Dome, etc. or to stay put and wait for water? Have our efficient methods which seem to think in bulk distribution only, not included overviews through the media to point to where the crowds are gathering? Instead of sending carriers that take days to arrive, why not send more rescue type planes or helicopters to at least feed and hydrate the groups of stranded people? It gets to me when these scenes are being filmed by those who have satellite telephones and yet they can't seem to use them to call in help.


A thought occurs to me...

This is happening in the nation with the best resources, the most advantages, we could have to reach those in need, and provide for them...

Yet it is still pretty bad, and may get worse; may be worse than we know...

So imagine what its like when it happens in most of the rest of the world.

Sandra Miesel

Thank you, Simon and Maureen! As I said on another thread, I get very cross when I see natural disasters seen as Divine punishments. Do those commentators think that no hurricanes/tsunamis/earthquakes/floods etc. struck when lands were uninhabited? Sit down with a book on natural disasters and try to line up calamities with vice. You can't. Stop trying. Pray for the afflicted and comfort the survivors.

Maria Ashwell

My brother just graduated from Tulane last year and I was lucky enough to spend 4 days there last May with my six year old son. I cannot express my grief over what is happening. My brother is devastated. New Orleans was his home for four years. The horror of watching the city slowly filled with water is almost unbearable. And the devastation in Mississippi leaves me speachless. Lord have mercy on us all!

psalm 41

I am praying for and contributing to the Catholic Charities for the afflicted. If you will notice in my post, I wasn't "dissing" New Orleans specifically, but was "dissing" our nation as a whole. And as far as sitting down with a book on natural disasters, my education is very wanting I'm afraid. I've spent far too much time sitting down with the Bible, I guess, and it frightens me that "Christians" have succumbed to the demands of emerging culture: It isn't fashionable anymore to believe in a God that punishes or allows a nation to be purified. Are we denying Holy Scripture in order to align ourselves with the secular world?


Are you sure this is the SAME Raymond Arroyo???

Mark Shea


Unless the Lord has somehow revealed to you that this catastrophe is a chastisment from him, by what right do you refer to people who disagree with you as "Christians" with the scare quotes? The "aw shucks, I'm jes' a simple Christian who doesn't know much about book learnin' and only know the Holy Bible" act is really tiresome, particularly when you are making quasi-prophetic utterances you don't have the courage to take responsibility for. Now: if you can show that the people who are in agony in New Orleans are bearing some sort of punishment for the sins of America (signs and wonders are generally a good way of establishing your prophetic credentials) then we'll all listen attentively. If you can't, then please shut up and stop telling people who question your prophetic status that they aren't really Christians. 'Kay?


Psalm 41: "I've spent far too much time sitting down with the Bible, I guess..."

It ill becomes you to suggest you are more faithful to Scripture than those who disagree with you. That may not have been your intent, but your statement seems to make this point.

I would point out to you that Scripture also says that the rain falls on the just, and the unjust; that God acceded to Abraham's intercession, and was willing to spare a very wicked city from destruction, for the sake of a small minority of the righteous . . .

The book of Jonah is clearly making the point that God much prefers conversion to punishment (and does so with great humor); Scripture tells us even the innocent suffer (the book of Job), and the wicked may escape just retribution in THIS life, although not when final judgment comes (the parable of the wheat and the weeds).

That you can cite Scripture to support temporal retribution is not more convincing, to me, than the Israelis citing passages to show why they are allowed to push others off their land.


psalm 41:

The criticism directed at your initial post is not a question of whether or not it's "fashionable anymore to believe in a God that punishes," or worse, of "denying Holy Scripture in order to align ourselves with the secular world."

In an earlier thread the possibility was discussed that certain prominent figures on the "Religious Right" could use Katrina as an opportunity for pronouncements on the themes of "the wrath of God has come down upon them for their perversity" or "see how God has struck the Papists." The latter is, to many readers of Amy's blog, particularly irritating; the former can indicate a certain Pharisaism on the part of the speaker. Thus, there is considerable touchiness on this subject.

At a time like this I think less of the enemies of Israel or of Sodom and Gomorrah than I do of Job, the righteous man from whom everything was taken. I think that Job's tale is in Scripture partly as a corrective, as a reminder to us that not all suffering is a direct result of our individual sin, and that God's plan may be more subtle than we can comprehend. To be sure, I do not claim righteousness for every last citizen of New Orleans, or the United States for that matter. Nonetheless, it was of Job's friends, who kept insisting on his personal sin being the cause of his misfortune, that God said "My wrath is kindled against you...for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." (Job 42:7)

psalm 41

Mr. Shea,
How an author can write 550 pages on the Blessed Virgin Mary and not have absorbed the graciousness of Our Lady is an enigma to me. Yes Sir, Mr. Shea, I will duly shut up, because you have spoken. 'Kay? And if I have offended one person, I duly apologize, for that was not my intent.

Gene Branaman

What? - Yes, it's the same Raymond Arroro that appears on EWTN. If that's what you meant to ask.

Catherine L

Wow, I had no idea Raymond Arroyo was from NO. I do know that restaurant Tony Angelo's.

Please pray for the people of NO and the MS Gulf Coast. I have so many homeless relatives it's hard for me to absorb it. And there are still a few unaccounted for.

Psalm 41 - I guess in all you scripture study you missed John Ch. 9 and Jesus' comments about the man born blind.

Mary Kay

Certainly my first thoughts are for those in the hardest hit areas, for clean water, freedom from fear, that they get to a safe, clean place, that order is restored quickly.

But I also wanted to weigh in on the "Divine Punishment" discussion. I remember a similar discussion after 9/11. There were the same "you can't say it's God's punishment" comments.

So Maureen, I will respectfully have to take exception to Kiplings Natural Theology. God DID allow the devastation to occur. It's not just nature. While I would not say it's because of individual sin (the poor are usually hardest hit in any disaster), God did not make the world to devastate humans. Someplace along the line, there is a reason that God allowed such devastation. I don't know those reasons, or why that specific location, those specific people. Wondering about those reasons does not displace my prayers for those affected. But I'm also reluctant to say that such devastation was just a random event.

chris K

No messages sent by nature. Right. Got that.

Reports a friend named Jackie Doucette who is originally from Biloxi:

"A church I used to attend when I lived or later visited Biloxi, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, is still standing after 'Katrina,' (means pure) while the casinos that surrounded the church were destroyed. The church is the circular building. It's located on US 90 -- directly across from the Copa and Grand casinos. A statue of St. Michael is located on top of the church and faces the water."


Sorry to be contrary, but not all Catholic churches survived the disaster... St. Thomas the Apostle in Long Beach, MS was totally destroyed.

It's hard to ascertain any divine motive behind this...

chris K

Chad, I believe what Jackie meant in speaking of this specific church and its location was not the idea that all good must remain (including churches) and not suffer with the evil, but rather to the symbol which she saw in this particular name, his particular place of protection and its juxtapostion. I doubt if anyone could take that idea from her by simply mentioning that another stood in another place. To her it had not only a personal connection but also a "sign of the times".... and place as well.



Yes, its just painfully obscure.

When folks said on Monday (when we thought N.O. had "escaped the worst"), "God diverted the hurricane, I doubt the folks on the receiving end of said diversion felt very blessed.

Of course, we might all say the same, in their shoes.

chris K

One effect Katrina (the pure) did have was to put an end to "Decadence weekend"...at least for this year:


and I believe the reason people were praying for some kind of lessening of a direct hit on NO was for the very reason of lessening, if only a little, the imagined greater punishment upon such a buried city....not to divert the same misery to others.


I heard the bit on CNN and when the interview with Raymond Arroyo was announced, I was expecting "our" Raymond Arroyo - but it didn't sound like him and no mention was made of any connection with EWTN.

Maybe his voice was just solemn and didn't reflect his normal speaking voice.

psalm 41

Mary Kay,
I don't know the reason for the devastation, either. Jean-Pierre de Caussade would tell us that these monsters are allowed only to stimulate the courage of the children of God, and when the monsters are slayed, He allows the victors into Heaven and hell engulfs the vanquished; and that God builds the heavenly Jerusalem with the fragments of Babylon the destroyed. I agree with you that the devastation is not a random event.

Sandra Miesel

The chorus of voices seeing Divine judgment in every disaster had gotten more insistent lately. I don't recall remarks of that sort with Hurricane Camille in 1969 or after the Great Outbreak of Tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest in 1974 but somehow the Northridge earthquake was God destroying the porn industry (naive wishful thinking) and so it's gone. Last year I overheard an old gentleman declaring that God was destroying Florida with storms because "they" were killing "that girl".
It's the barely restrained glee at seeing sinners "get theirs" that disturbs me. Do not pretend that you can read the Mind of God.

Catherine L

"A church I used to attend when I lived or later visited Biloxi, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, is still standing after 'Katrina,' (means pure) while the casinos that surrounded the church were destroyed. The church is the circular building. It's located on US 90 -- directly across from the Copa and Grand casinos. A statue of St. Michael is located on top of the church and faces the water."

Chris, that's interesting, because the original St. Michael's in Biloxi (which was a much better looking church) was destroyed by Camille. They built the new one round to withstand a hurricane. Looks like it worked.

psalm 41

Who's gleeful? I'm obsessing over the babies that are dependent on formula -- and the putrid water that is available to prepare it.

chris K

I certainly wouldn't try to understand the "big picture" when disasters strike, but whenever there is a desperate kind of happening occuring in anyone's life, one can often see signs. I was in the middle of the great tornado day in 1974 - in Louisville. I couldn't get to the basement and was up in a second floor apartment, just getting home from shopping with my mother. She went on to her home. The "freight train" barreled through. I watched the huge Oak tree in my back yard get ripped up and tossed over...sideways to neighbor's yard...not against the house. My bay window blew out...apt next blew in. Roof went. It all happened so fast. I later found leaves from plants on the back porch in the front room...and the porch door had been locked with a heavy double bolt. So it must have swirled all around me. There was water in a shoe underneath the bed, but the mattress was dry. Two houses down was a young mother who had just gone in to get her toddler up from her nap. After the tornado that toddler's room was gutted. Other "little" miracles occurred throughout the neightborhood with no one hurt although there was much destruction. Communications were cut off. Tree landed on my car and destroyed it. My aunt was on the phone as her house suddenly swirled around her, leaving one room, her daughter's, completely untouched while the rest was demolished. She just sorta froze until it was over. People found a bible, only thing left, lying open to some meaningful verse, etc. So, no one can explain it all, but one is missing out if they purposely neglect to see the little signs meant, perhaps just for them. Sometimes, the bigger events of destruction, combined with the means of communication today, can speak to an entire nation...or world...beyond just one's little neighborhood.


I saw the interview. Yes, it was Raymond Arroyo from EWTN. I'm shocked people are debating the point.

Joanie h

I wrote earlier, but I think I lost it, so I will try again. Mr. Arroyo, it meant the world to me to read your faith-filled and hope filled interview.

I had the great priviledge of seeing New Orleans for the first time in June of 2005. We went to Biloxi for a reunion of St. Regis Controllers. We took some time to drive to New Orleans with our 16 year old daughter, and spent a few hours in the French Quarter. We prayed at the St. Louis the King Cathedral, which Pope John Paul II visited in 1987, and we ate Seafood Gumbo at a beautiful corner cafe. Every moment spent there is etched in my mind. As we were walking to the city parking lot, the air was filled with music from a band playing on the levee, right over the center stairway. And I watched a young man on the levee, he was walking to the beat of that music with such natural grace that made me think "This is what God intended walking to be".

In "Witness to Hope" by George Weigal, I read that Poland had been devastated and ravaged by war many times. There have been times in Polish history when Poland had no borders. But with the help of Our Lady of Czestochowa, actually *because* of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the people kept their faith and their Polish Culture in their hearts and from their hearts they rebuilt her once again. This is how it will be in New Orleans. New Orleans has a Faith, she has a History and she has a Culture. I pray that many of us will work together in solidarity with our prayers and our self-giving to help re-build New Orleans and may we work together to build a Culure of LIFE there and everywhere in our country.

Steve Skojec

The "aw shucks, I'm jes' a simple Christian who doesn't know much about book learnin' and only know the Holy Bible" act is really tiresome, particularly when you are making quasi-prophetic utterances you don't have the courage to take responsibility for.

Excerpt from the as-yet-to-be-published work, Mark Shea: Apostle of Charity

chris K

Chris, that's interesting, because the original St. Michael's in Biloxi (which was a much better looking church) was destroyed by Camille. They built the new one round to withstand a hurricane. Looks like it worked.

And unfortunately it looks like the casinos nearby, also supposedly built to withstand hurricanes, weren't as "blessed" with their own design engineers as St. Mike's!


I would just like to say that although I don't think God causes these tragedies, He does let them happen. Usually after a disater like this or 9/11 what do people do? They turn to God. Maybe He just wants us to pay a little more attention to Him.

You know who

God bless those who suffer, those who die and those who survive. God save those who help, those who struggle and those who endevor to work in the tender mercies of the Lord's calling on their lives in service of his people and all people in this time of need. Only God knows the reason for this tragedy, it is not for us to guess, it is only for us to come together, saint and sinner alike and work for the restoration of the city, the people, the lives and the infrastructure so that a habitable place can be reborn out of a wasteland. Thank you to a great number of people of faith who have been on the front lines of this effort, in your works, your prayers, your monies and your generosities. I do not live there, but I have heard legendary things. Bless everyone and God keep you.

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