We could see the storm rolling into the valley where the two rivers met, where we’d made camp for the evening. With rain soaked ground everywhere it had been an ordeal to find the right spot to pitch a tent and we were moving a bit slower than the previous days of the hike.
Tents pitched and canteens refilled, we prepared for Mass on the Feast of the Assumption and saw the rain bearing down. Father Nathan paused before beginning to address us and invite us to pray the rain off and invoke the intercession of Our Lady to starve off the rain for enough time so we could have Mass.
There knelt 19 of us, young adults from around the US, journeying together through the wilds of the Scottish Highlands with two Priests and a Religious sister. And pray we did. Fervent prayer, imploring the Lord to hear us and turn the direction of the rain so we could bring Him glory and praise in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The wind picked up and the rain stayed its course, so our plans had to change, and quickly. Two men rapidly moved the cover tent to the most sheltered spot on the hill and Father moved the altar we had set up for Mass. The rest of us remained there, silently interceding.
Darkness was falling and the rain arrived in the moments Mass began. We celebrated the Sacrament, the howling wind threatening to sweep our cover away, leaving us vulnerable to the elements. Rather than exposing the blessed Sacrament, three weary hikers grabbed the poles, bending from the strain of the wind, and held on tight. Held on to protect Jesus and our community – the church.
“Isn’t that the same in life,” Father Nathan addressed us in his Homily. “Isn’t it the same, that at times you can see the storms of life rolling in, feel the shift in the wind, pray against it, pray for peace and calm, and the storm rages anyways.
The storm of society clashing against the Culture of Christ. Nearly drowning out the prayers of the faithful. But we have hope.”
As Christians, we always have Hope. And especially this Feast of the Assumption, we are reminded of He who is victorious and she who always points us to Him. Those two, holding the tent poles for us to be protected.
I’ve never been at a Mass so memorable as that Feast of the Assumption, last year during that hike. Kneeling after communion with Jesus so close to me and the rain pelting us from all sides, wind whipping at our tents, the memory is seared in my mind.
So this Feast of the Assumption, when the news of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, hard situations in our own nation, and heartbreaking news threaten to drown out Hope, I am clinging to that tent pole alongside Jesus and Mary.
I’m clinging to it because I do not want to be blown away by the despair of the world. I’m clinging to it because I do not want others to be exposed and vulnerable – beaten down by the wind and rain.