September 2021 Four County Catholic
Confident in Our Faith
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Inspiration can come to us in many ways. Sometimes the source of inspiration can surprise us. I had such a moment recently. While Storm Ida was rattling the windows of my office and I was praying for the people of New Orleans, I recalled a conversation I had about a decade ago with a retired Coast Guard Commander, a conversation that gave me the opportunity to share how much I admire the courage and dedication of all who serve in the Coast Guard. At one point we discussed the heralded Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers, an elite and well-trained team of men and women who, under the most extreme conditions put their lives at risk saving others.
I remember asking him what the single most important attribute of a successful Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer is. His answer surprised me. He explained that it isn’t physical strength, or the ability to swim faster than the rest, or overall athletic ability, and not even endurance. These were all important qualifications; however, the single most valued attribute is what they call “confidence in the water”.
Above all else, they need to be comfortable under high stress, air-sea rescue conditions. When a rescue swimmer encounters chaos at the scene of a crisis – under the worst possible weather and heavy seas – they must demonstrate grace under pressure. The rescue swimmer, grabbing hold of the person, informs the distressed individual that they are there to help. The survivor will feel that confidence and gain strength and hope. That is the difference maker in the storm. Confidence.
Hearing this came as an inspiration to me as I immediately made a connection to the importance of confidence in one’s faith. In the face of the storms of cultural chaos, and troubling secularization, it takes assuredness of faith to see yourself and others through the choppy waters of darkness and uncertainty.
Whether it be the events playing out on the world stage in Afghanistan and Haiti; or closer to home with the Delta variant and the economy; living your faith with unwavering confidence brings grace and strength to you and those around you.
We can take inspiration from the words of Jeremiah, “Ah! How mighty is that day— there is none like it! A time of distress for Jacob, though he shall be saved from it.” ( Jeremiah 30:7).
Yes, we shall be saved from the distress. You see, in the end, God, in His mercy, delivers us to the other side of unrest, provided we maintain our gaze on Him.
It is the example of Jesus in the Gospels that inspires us toward peace and justice in the world. Together we are determined to build a world where human life is always valued, loved, and defended.
There are many ways that we can live our faith.
Pray to Our Lady of Perpetual Help patroness of Haiti to intercede for us for our brothers and sisters who are once again rebuilding their lives after experiencing another devastating earthquake, the brutal assassination of their president, and the constant threat of violence. You can follow the good work being done by our ministry in Haiti at OutreachtoHaiti. org. There you will find other ways to lend your support.
Ask St. Thomas the Apostle, patron saint of Afghanistan, to intercede on behalf of the people in this war-torn country, especially the young women who are not only at risk of losing opportunities gained over the last 20 years but are very likely at risk of unspeakable brutality, including the loss of their lives.
Pray, fast, and hold vigil during the 40 Days for Life. Volunteer in a food pantry. Give an overworked parent a break by watching their children. Find your way to shine the light of Christ in the world. And as we embark upon another school year, may the Lord continue to bless our students, teachers, and staff, providing them with a safe and healthy year of learning.
I pray that we all, in our own way, become “rescue swimmers” for those in distress. May your joyful confidence of faith continue to save souls in the storms that confront us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich