Saturday, January 07, 2006

Our Lady of Prom Sucker

My wife and I were racking our brains trying to figure out what the heck that lady on NPR was saying. "Our Lady of Prom Sucker?" She was covering a great story in Nawlins (that's New Orleans for you Yankees) about an Ursuline Order of nuns, their church and their school. I turned to the true fount of all knowledge for help -- the All-Seeing Google. I quickly discovered that it was "Our Lady of Prompt Succor," and of course, we all know what succor means. The nun singing about prom sucker was much funnier.

What struck me about the story, although it was done well, was the imagined reaction in the minds of NPR listeners everywhere. I imagine it was exactly the sort of reaction that the journalist expected. The crux of the story, of course, was that although for two centuries, Our Lady of Prompt Succor (or OLPH to her friends) had preserved them from the fury of numerous hurricanes, Katrina was just too much for the ol' girl. What an unholy catfight that must've been. The nuns had egg on their faces. They prayed, but this time, it didn't work.

How do most of us view those nuns? With pity? Ridicule? Scorn? To the modern mind, their story must have sounded a little pathetic, especially with the tune of "prom sucker" being sung int he background. They honestly believed that the statue of Mary in their chapel had some kind of holy imprimatur. The really thought that Mother Mary could stand up to Mother Nature. Don't they understand science? Don't they know how hurricanes work? Don't they realize that it is nothing more than the product of natural forces -- temperature fluctuations, air pressure, the Gulf Stream, etc. These things don't listen to reason.

This really bothers me. It bothers me because I thought those things in my heart. I pitied them. But as I thought about it, I pitied myself. I have become cynical and skeptical of miracles and the power of prayer*. The world has been so meticulously dissected by science that I couldn't possibly believe that God could endue a statue or a church with a special manifestation of his presence. I would be embarassed to suggest that God could have turned that hurricane around or snuffed it out instantaneously. I have become worldly. The horizon has been wiped away.

*I won't go in to the nature of prayer -- that's for another post.


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