Events like an earthquake will “rock” lives but if Catholics are faithful to the Gospel words of John 6: 69-70 “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; and we know you are the Holy One of God”, then they are prepared.
“If you say that and you mean it you are ready for Heaven…are we ready for Jesus? So even if an earthquake comes, even though we get a bit shaky and scared we know we are still ready,” said Fr Elveau Augustine of the Diocese of Roseau, Dominica in his homily at the Santa Rosa RC Church for the 232nd anniversary of its feast day last Sunday. He said focus was on the two verses from the Gospel reading with reference to St Rose. Fr Augustine was invited by parish priest Fr Steve Duncan to preach at the novena leading up to the celebration so he also experienced the 6.9 earthquake on August 21.
He said when the earthquake happened it looked like he was doing the “shuffle” dance. Although anxious and thinking of the concrete roof falling, he was sure of something within his soul ready for glory. Fr Augustine has visited Trinidad several times and observed traffic congestion at all hours of the day. He also noticed pedestrians walking aimlessly. He asked, “Where are people going to?”.
Fr Augustine surmised there was a loss of purpose in life. “When you have lost your sense of destiny, you get disconnected and anxious so you just go and you just do things.”
Fr Augustine saw the restlessness and hopelessness in the behaviours displayed as the absence of God and presence of something else. “Nature abhors a vacuum. If God is not in your heart and my heart then we will just be going blindly, wandering aimless places… when you have lost your sense of direction and destiny in life you lose a sense of God,” he said.
Another experience however is “perfect fulfilment” which resides in God and gives a sense of purpose, direction and destiny.
In life there will still be questions and struggles but the faithful trusting in God have a rudder and anchor in their life. “Deep in the yearnings of your spirit and your soul there is an inner light guiding you to victory and ultimate rest in Jesus Christ,” Fr Augustine asserted.
He observed there were persons going to church who still did not know God and likened them to “grasshoppers”— “Catholic today, Pentecostal tomorrow, Seven Days yesterday”. There was loud applause when he stated that those who know Christ have stability, and experience total satisfaction, joy and love.
He related the story of St Rose de Lima whose decision to become a nun was in opposition of her mother’s desire for her to marry: “She offered her life to God; she did not stay home and become a grouchy, miserable teenage virgin, no way!” In the seclusion of her life, she encountered God and had a sense of purpose and direction.
Fr Augustine urged the congregation to emulate her life, finding total satisfaction in God and not in drugs, gangs, systems or escort services. He highlighted the practice of some to seek answers from sorcerers and freemasons without realising “you can’t go to evil to beat evil”. He added, “God is not to be tried: you go to Him and surrender. People go to everything else and after they have drunk and had all types of experience their lives are more miserable than before”.
Fr Augustine reminded that the faithful will experience “human issues” and at times lose faith. However, this did not mean “we gone through”. Rather, “It just means God will lift us again and we shall arise and when we rise…by the grace of God, we rise by the faith….” The liturgy had participation by members of the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Community and Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez offered up an intercessory prayer for greater care for nature. Among the invited guests were MP for Arima, Education Minister Anthony Garcia and Deputy Mayor Cagney Casimire.
After the Mass, there was a procession of congregants, Frs Augustine and Duncan with the statue of St Rose de Lima ending at the church for Benediction. The formalities ended with thanks by Fr Duncan to the people involved and continued collaboration between the church and First Peoples community in furthering the understanding of the patroness. Fr Duncan announced a contingent of 14 parishioners will go on pilgrimage to Peru, the birthplace of the patroness on September 9 and offer novena in petitions.
A variety of stalls were also on display at the Santa Rosa park from craft to food items. There were Parang and steel pan music and other performances later in the evening. –LPG