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Friday, September 1, 2017

Are You Ready?

More than 2000 people died in the 1989
Johnstown flood. How many were ready?
Today's gospel reading was the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins waiting for the bridegroom. The five foolish had no extra oil for their lamps. They weren't ready and missed the bridegroom when he came because they were out shopping for more oil. Meanwhile, the five wise virgins went into the wedding feast after refilling their lamps. Jesus finished his parable saying, "You know not the day or the hour..." so be ready.

That came home in a big way to me recently when we visited Johnstown, PA, the site of the 1889 flood, the worst disaster the country ever experienced up to that time. When the earthen dam fourteen miles above Johnstone broke, tons of water gushed down the river gaining speed and debris and slammed into homes and factories in the town demolishing them in an instant.
Earlier in the day the people had been celebrating Memorial Day with a parade and festivities. They had no idea that many were enjoying their last day on earth - that the storm that began that afternoon marked death and disaster for over 2,000 men, women, and children.

None of us knows the year, day, or minute of our death, but we know with certainty that it will come. Death is certain, but the hour of death is uncertain. What if it's today? Or tomorrow? Are you ready? Am I?

The most important journey we will ever take is the one when our souls depart from our bodies to attend the particular judgment, when we will meet the Lord and see our life spread before us. We will know both the good and bad with a clarity we probably have never experienced before. What will we hear the Lord say? "Welcome, good and faithful servant" or "Depart from me...I don't know you"?

I pray every day for the grace of final perseverance. Today was First Friday. One of the promises associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and making the nine First Fridays is to die with the Sacraments. I long for that. I want the consolation of Jesus in the final moments of my life.  I don't want to be caught unprepared. How many of those poor souls who died in the Johnstown flood were unprepared to meet the Lord? I was praying for them as we watched the movie at the National Flood Museum. Since God is not limited by time I hope those prayers gave the grace of repentance to those who needed it.

Tomorrow is First Saturday, another opportunity to console the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Let's act like the wise virgins carrying the oil of prayer and devotion so that we will be welcomed into the wedding feast on the last day rather than finding ourselves on the wrong side of a locked door like the foolish virgins.


Anonymous said...

May 31, 1889.


Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for correcting my typo. I need an editor. LOL!

Unknown said...

When I worked on Delmarva I was driving west on rt. 404 in MD, which is a main route to the Delaware beaches. Most of the traffic was eastbound. As I crested a small hill I saw smoke about a quarter mile in front of me. As a truck driver, I knew right away that a truck had locked up it's brakes and the tires were smoking as they dragged across the pavement. I immediately put on my 4-way's and slowed down. Then I saw the truck pushing a white SUV cross the centerline and into my lane, coming to rest on the shoulder to my right. I pulled over on the shoulder also. All three people in the car were unconscious. I later found out that the twelve year old son the back seat was pronounced dead at the scene, the father in the passenger seat died at the hospital and the mother who was driving survived. The father had been a vice president of the Rouse Company, real estate development company that developed the Inner Harbor in Baltimore as well as the town of Columbia. The were enroute from their home in Ellicott City to their condo or townhouse in Rehoboth. I also discovered that they were Catholic. Whenever I passed that spot I would remember them and think that they probably had no idea that they would be dead that afternoon; they were looking forward to a nice weekend at the beach. I also think that if I had arrived a few seconds sooner I might have been hit head on as they crossed the centerline, or at least been involved in the accident somehow. I have had other very close calls also.