the Sunday after

It is evening on the Sunday after the week before. Today at the three OLV Masses people have many stories to share.

We reflected together on the effects of last weeks quake and the dozens of unsettling aftershocks. Then. during the homily of the 5pm Mass, another quake. It was a significant jolt and (from where I was standing) I saw the momentary uncertainty on the faces. What do we do? I knew at that point that the homily needed to finish. It would brave (or foolish) preacher who continued to speak after God had sent an earthquake!

When the brief (3-4 second) shake was over I asked the people if we should continue with Mass. The overwhelming response was “yes!” I’m not sure if they were saying “yes” ‘it is good that we pray at a time like this’, or “yes” ‘get on with it so that we can get out of here!’

It has been a week of uncertainty. But at Masses here this weekend there was a strong sense of the power and presence of God with us in the midst of the anxiety we might feel.

Our thoughts and prayers today were very much with the people of our city and region who are suffering.

At the end of Mass people stayed around in the church much longer than usual. They were no hurry to get away from the tonnes of concrete above them. There is a confidence (based anew on our recent experience), that God is protecting us.

This afternoon staff and supporters of our parish school moved the school administration and staff room of the school into the Bishop Joyce Centre. The brick admin block (with connected classrooms) is off limits at the moment.

But this inconvenience we are experiencing here at OLV is minor compared to the suffering in many other parts of Canterbury. For these people, our prayers continue.

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