As I write this to you, I am visiting the Missions of Peru. And, as the world once again watches the devastation a hurricane can wrought, I recall my own experience of natural disaster in this South American nation many years ago.
Where do we find appropriate answers at times like these? Where do we find comfort? There is a simple, yet profound answer. We, as believers, look to our faith. It is what nourishes us; it sustains us and, in the worst of times, it allows us to endure. My experience in Peru, during the worst floods in the country's history, certainly offered valuable insight into the overwhelming power of faith.
Back during that 1980s visit here, people were dying, their humble homes being washed away; there was disease and starvation. And yet, there we were, visiting missionaries from my home Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taking part in a religious procession with hundreds of faithful on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Their faith at work, focused on the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, these people were happy and hopeful.
To all who have suffered thus far from Hurricane Gustav, for all who have died and for those who mourn, know that all of us in this "one family in mission" are offering our faith-filled prayers for each one of you. To our brothers and sisters right here at home, in the Gulf States, who just three years after the decimation of Hurricane Katrina are facing similar suffering and devastation, know that the prayers of the people of the Missions are with you as well. Your brothers and sisters in Peru and throughout the Developing World have lived through similar circumstances. And, in addition to their prayers, they offer you their faith-filled example of seeing any event through in faith. May the power of our faith in Jesus, the light and hope of the world, help all who face suffering of any kind this day and in the days to come. Amen.
The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerful missionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.