| Low water levels prompt California bishops
to urge prayers for rain
|Sample prayers for rain|
Bishop Soto offers this simple prayer:
May God open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains. Let us especially pray for those most impacted by water shortages and for the wisdom and charity to be good stewards of this precious gift. May our political leaders seek the common good as we learn to care and share God's gift of water for the good of all.
"O God, in Whom we live, move and have our being, grant us sufficient rain, so that, being supplied with what sustains us in this present life, we may seek more confidently what sustains us for eternity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever." (From The Roman Missal of the Catholic Church, No. 35)
"For those facing threats to their health, safety and well-being because of the lack of rainfall in California. May God bring us rain and snow to alleviate their struggles and to care for the water needs of the people in the Golden State. For this we pray to the Lord."
"For those who manage our water resources. May they be granted the wisdom and strength to balance the many needs of people and commerce as we share God's gift of water among all Californians. For this we pray to the Lord."
"Almighty God, we are in need of rain. We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky, what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is. To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear! We place our trust in You. We are sure that You know our needs. But You want us to ask you anyway, to show You that we know we are dependent on You. Look to our dry hills and fields, dear God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain. Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing Your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad. Amen. (Prayer for Rain from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference-Rural Life Prayer Book)"
SACRAMENTO — California's Catholic bishops are asking Catholics and all people of faith to pray for rain as lower-than-normal rainfall in the state enters its third year.
"Water is essential to who we are as human beings," said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, president of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, in a Jan. 6 posting on the conference's website. "Our reliance on water reveals how much we are part of creation and creation is a part of us."
Drought has not been officially declared in the state, but the shrinking levels of groundwater and reservoirs and a reduced snowpack are becoming increasingly evident.
Bishop Soto offered a prayer all could say to ask for rain:
"May God open the heavens and let his mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains. Let us especially pray for those most impacted by water shortages and for the wisdom and charity to be good stewards of this precious gift. May our political leaders seek the common good as we learn to care and share God's gift of water for the good of all."
The state Catholic conference's website also includes prayers taken from the Roman Missal and Catholic Rural Life's "Rural Life Prayer Book" as well as sample prayer intentions to use during the general intercessions at Mass.
Los Angeles averages 14.93 inches of rainfall a year; the average for its suburbs can range from just under that amount and up to 22 inches or so a year. San Francisco averages 20.78 inches. Sacramento, the state capital, averages 21.17 inches. San Jose and Stockton average between 14-15 inches. The state's wettest locale is the Smith River basin, which averages 84.36. inches of rain; the driest spots are Anza and Holtville, which average 2.85 inches.
"If current trends continue, the 38 million residents of California could face many economic, health, safety and quality of life challenges from the current water shortage," the California Catholic Conference website posting said. "Some of the highest unemployment in the nation, for instance, is already in California's rural farming communities. Water shortages could make matters worse in these devastated communities."
It added, "Annually, wildfires threaten homes and livelihoods as well as the safety of the men and women who must fight the fires. Workers in the water-, outdoor- and snow-recreation industries face loss of income. Water is vital for food production, sanitation, power generation, environmental protection and transportation. In a severe drought people could also face increased respiratory ailments, heat-related emergencies, and mental stress."
The website quoted passages from "The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" to underscore the need for "careful stewardship."
"By its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. The distribution of water is traditionally among the responsibilities that fall to public agencies, since water is considered a public good. If water distribution is entrusted to the private sector it should still be considered a public good," one passage says.
"The right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right."
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