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Excellent post on "Lessons in Weathering the Storm"

Discussion in 'Scriptural Thoughts' started by sparrow, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. sparrow

    sparrow Archangels

    The Next Right Step
    Lessons in Weathering a Storm
    Posted on June 9, 2017 by Beckita
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    (Once again, I reprint a piece, filled with insight and instruction, by Msgr Charles Pope. I do so having sought his permission to post his work. He does not endorse the prophetic elements here. This is an apropos piece, both as a spiritual examination when pondering the storms of life and as an assessment of the times in which we are now living. ~Beckita)

    “And no small tempest lay on us …” – The Story of a Storm That St. Paul Endured and What It Has to Teach Us About Sin
    Msgr Charles Pope - June 4, 2017

    With yesterday’s feast of Pentecost, our reading of Acts suddenly ends and hence we miss some important stories of Paul’s journey to Rome. This is perhaps another reason to restore the Pentecost Octave, which was dropped in 1970. Doing so would give us eight more days in which to savor the Acts of the Apostles. Among the stories we miss is that of the storm and subsequent shipwreck of St. Paul, who was under armed guard while on the way to Rome. To make up for the loss to the lectionary, let’s consider the story here and learn its lessons. It is beefy enough to take two days to savor. Because this reflection is long, I’ve created a PDF of it (here) for you to print out and read later. I know that reading long posts on the screen can weary the eyes!

    It is interesting that St. Luke devotes an entire chapter (27) of Acts to describing the storm at sea that St. Paul endured. The level of detail is high, signaling to us that such details are important. The Holy Spirit has something to teach us here about how we get into trouble and how we can get out of it.

    Storms in life are often beyond our control. Perhaps they come from nature and the sudden vicissitudes of this world. Sometimes God permits storms in order to test and strengthen us. Sometimes, too, others drag us into storms and we suffer on account of their poor decisions. Some storms come from our own foolishness and poor choices.

    In the story we are about to examine, St. Paul is dragged into a storm by the stupidity and poor choices of a military official and a ship’s crew. Paul was under arrest and being sent to Rome for trial before Caesar. Therefore, he was in the custody of a military officer. Of all the people in this storm, St. Paul is the only one who is innocent of the foolishness that made them endure it. In the end, only he can show the proper way out. The storm we are about to study shows in great detail what can happen to us as individuals and as an overall culture when we defiantly and proudly resist God’s will and common sense. This is a storm that has a lot to teach us about ourselves. Let’s look at a storm that Scripture calls a Euroclydon (a Nor’easter). You can read the full text of Acts 27 here.

    I. The Coming Danger – God sends many warnings: from the natural order, from the Church, and in our own consciences. Note how often these are systematically ignored.

    Whys and Wherefores – And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.

    St. Paul was under arrest and had appealed his case to Rome. He was put in the custody of a Roman centurion named Julius, who seemed a decent enough man but was a poor judge of both weather and the professional qualities of a ship’s captain. This appeal to Rome was Paul’s right as a Roman citizen. God had told him that he would testify in Rome and to have courage. Such words would be necessary for Paul to cling to, for he was about to be dragged into a very foolish journey by those who simply would not see the danger despite repeated warnings. This probably sounds familiar because it is of course part of our human condition to act foolishly and recklessly and refuse to recognize danger. It is also an unfortunate characteristic of our Western culture, which has steered us into a great oncoming storm.

    Warnings – And putting to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and put us on board.

    So here are the initial signals of danger: the wind against them and a poor time of year to sail, chancy conditions at best. It was common in the winter months to stay off the Mediterranean and remain at port and to make longer journeys by land. The sea was very dangerous at this time of year and whatever sailing did take place was done very near the coast. Despite the danger signals, the centurion does not appear to be alarmed; he is determined to get the task done.

    Worsening – We sailed slowly for a number of days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go on, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

    More danger signals! Now the centurion’s determination becomes defiance. This is typical of many a sinner. He sees the warnings but decides that he will not be just another statistic; he will be able to escape the dangers. Cultures think this way too. Defiance is the sad result of hearts that are growing hard and wills that are growing stubborn. With necks of iron and foreheads of brass, sinners sally forth and cultures set out on campaigns of self-destruction.

    II. The Continued Defiance – In the verses that follow, there is quite the list of the elements of a poor and rash decision. Let’s see what Scripture teaches us about the diagnosis of a bad decision. Together, these elements contribute to a foolish defiance and a failure to heed warnings. There are five elements:

    Precipitousness – As much time had been lost, and the voyage was already dangerous because the fast had already gone by.

    In other words, they are at a critical time. The window for safe sailing, if it even still exists, is closing fast. It’s now or never! But hasty decisions—made more out of concern for time than what is wise or right—are usually poor ones. This is rampant in our culture today. Urgency seems to permeate most things. News crews love to create a sense of crisis and urgency. Suddenly everyone has opinions on what must be done … and quickly! Sob stories and other emblematic but highly selective crisis situations are put before us by the media and politically savvy organizations. Swift and draconian decisions are often demanded. Sometimes unhappy mobs protest and legislators respond by making hasty fixes to what are complex problems. Careful deliberation is underappreciated. There is a failure to recognize that rushing often leads to the development of poor “solutions.” But in our culture, most people follow the priority of the urgent more so than that of the important.

    Preferring worldly wisdom – Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

    Yes, what does this religious zealot know about sailing or weather? Never mind that Paul had sailed before and had known rough seas and shipwreck. What does this preacher have to offer? The captain and the owner of the ship are the experts. Today, many say that the Church has nothing to offer, that priests cannot speak to marriage, family life, or sexuality; only scientists, doctors, and other professionals can really have anything valuable to offer. To be sure, all these experts do have much to offer, but it is dangerous to rely on them alone to set a course for this world. Worldly wisdom can still, at best, procure for us a worldly grave. True wisdom pierces the heavens and seeks the voice of God, who alone can save us. Disregarding the voice of faith is perilous indeed.

    cont'd...
     

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