Hopefully we are all painfully aware of the situation in Haiti. I don't intend to spend much time talking about this because it is getting an incredible amount of coverage, as it should. I have just a few thoughts and then I will mention some things that I believe we all can commit to doing right now and in the long run to help our desperate brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Having made two trips there with teams from my parish in Carmel I did not need to see pictures or even to hear reports about the destruction caused by the earthquake. I have seen firsthand how the buildings in Haiti were built and I was immediately certain that most of them wouldn't have withstood the forces of the earthquake. This is not to say anything against the Haitian people. They built with the best that they had as best as they could - buildings that have withstood hurricanes - but it wasn't enough to withstand an earthquake of that magnitude. As images started to come in and I laid eyes on the reality of the devastation, my heart broke.
The Church in Haiti was far from immune from the devastation. The Archbishop of Port Au Prince was killed and the cathedral along with the seminary was destroyed. It is unknown how many seminarians were in the seminary, but it is feared that they and the staff of priests and religious are also lost. As a seminarian, to think about the impact that losing most if not all of the country's seminarians will have on the Church in Haiti and its future is overwhelming, to say the least. And this is only a part of the total story.
The initial response is necessarily so massive that only people at the highest levels of major governments can possibly coordinate any effort to quickly and effectively help the survivors. Nevertheless, here are three things that I think that we all can do right now and well into the future to help the Haitian people.
1. Pray. Let us be relentless in our prayer. Prayer is keeping survivors still buried under the rubble alive and giving strength to those who have already spent days searching for and digging them out. It is consoling grieving survivors and their loved ones around the world. The people of Haiti need our prayers now more than ever and it is something that is well within our capability to do and to do abundantly.
2. Donate. Obviously, the humanitarian need is massive right now. It's almost incomprehensible. The best thing that we can do is to make sure they never have less supplies than they know how to distribute. I personally have made my initial contribution to Catholic Relief Services. They are big enough to take part in a job of this magnitude, they have a history of presence in Haiti and will continue to have a presence in Haiti indefinitely. You can go to http://www.crs.org/ to donate. There are many more organizations out there that have similar resources to CRS, however, and so if you have not found one already and made a donation, please find one soon and donate.
3. Fast. This is a combination of the two, in a way. The Haitian people are in desperate need and it is going to require some sacrificial giving on our part to help them rebuild their lives, not just materially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I invite you to pray and to ask God what you can sacrifice in your own life in order to help the people of Haiti rebuild their lives, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. God will definitely answer that prayer. With humility and courage we can all make a difference for the people of Haiti today and in the future.
It is in our darkest moments that God's power manifests itself most strongly to break through with His light. He is calling each of us to respond. May we have hearts full of charity to hear and respond to His call.