California Bishops call for prayers, end to drought
Catholic bishops in California have called for divine intervention as their state endures what appears to be its third straight dry winter.
The California Conference of Catholic Bishops asked people of all faiths to join in prayers for rain as reservoirs in the state dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.`
Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, president of the bishops’ conference, suggested a prayer for God to “open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains.”
Dire concern growing
Concern is growing in California even as much of the rest of the nation huddles in a deep freeze fed by blasts of Arctic air. Some California cities already are restricting water use. Prospects for another dry summer have raised alarm about agriculture and wildfires.
If significant rainfall doesn’t start anytime soon, state and local officials are going to have to start thinking about serious water measures. According to reports from local meteorologists, 88 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought and 28 percent of the state is in extreme drought.
Bishop Soto remarked in a news release: “Our reliance on water reveals how much we are part of Creation and Creation is a part of us.”
Impacts from prolonged drought
The Catholic bishops have suggested prayers for relief and for the wellbeing of those most at risk from a water shortage. Needless to say, a drought will affect people’s livelihoods, health and quality of life.
If current trends continue, the 38 million residents of California could face many economic, health, safety and quality of life challenges from the current water shortage. The bishops especially noted that California’s farming communities, already dealing with high unemployment, will be devastated as water shortages become more serious.
Water is vital not only for food production, but also sanitation, power generation, environmental protection and transportation. As for public health, people will face increased respiratory ailments, heat related emergencies, and mental stress during a severe and prolonged drought.
Balancing the needs of various water users in California will be a challenge for leaders and communities alike.
Call to prayer
Because of the potentially dangerous impact on people, industry and the environment, the Catholic Bishops of California are asking all people of faith to join in prayer for God’s mercy and compassion.
“As we work toward the common good of the state in this situation, we are reminded of our dependence on the Creator. Our relationship with Him calls us to be good stewards of the creation He has entrusted to us. As stewards of creation we can turn to the Divine Master asking that He see our plight and give ear to our plea for rain,” said Bishop Soto.
He offers this simple prayer:
May God open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains. Let us especially pray for those most impacted by water shortages and for the wisdom and charity to be good stewards of this precious gift. May our political leaders seek the common good as we learn to care and share God’s gift of water for the good of all.
More prayers for rain
O God, in Whom we live move and have our being, grant us sufficient rain, so that, being supplied with what sustains us in this present life, we may seek more confidently what sustains us for eternity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. (From The Roman Missal of the Catholic Church, #35)
For those facing threats to their health, safety and well-being because of the lack of rainfall and snowpack in California. May God bring us rain and snow to alleviate their struggles and to care for the water needs of the people in the Golden State. For this we pray to the Lord.
For those who manage our water and snowpack resources. May they be granted the wisdom and strength to balance the many needs of people and commerce as we share God’s gift of water among all Californians. For this we pray to the Lord.
Prayer for Rain from our Rural Life Prayerbook
Almighty God, we are in need of rain. We realize now, looking up into the clear blue sky, what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is. To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!
We place our trust in You. We are sure that You know our needs. But You want us to ask you anyway, to show You that we know we are dependent on you.
Look to our dry hills and fields, dear God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain. Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing Your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad. Amen.