As Drought Deepens, Catholic Bishops Say ‘Pray for Rain’

Ripples on a section of dry lake bottom near Folsom Dam, east of Sacramento. (Dan Brekke/KQED)
Ripples on a section of dry lake bottom near Folsom Dam, east of Sacramento. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

We’ve got to give a hat tip to the Sacramento Bee for alerting us to the story: The California Catholic Conference of Bishops has issued a call for “all people of faith to join in prayer for God’s mercy and compassion” — specifically by sending us rain.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, president of the conference, issued the prayer message on Monday. He enumerated the many dire effects a drought can have in California — everything from rampant wildfires to high unemployment in the Central Valley farm communities. “As we work toward the common good of the state in this situation, we are reminded of our dependence on the Creator and of the relationship we have with Him to be good stewards,” Soto wrote. “As stewards of creation we can turn to the Divine Master asking that He see our plight and give ear to our plea for rain.”

Soto’s communique comes with California in the 13th consecutive month of scant rainfall. Last year was the driest calendar year on record for many parts of the state. Sacramento area officials get ready to institute severe new conservation measures, including curtailing flows into the American River from Folsom Lake and imposing an outdoor-watering ban on suburbs east of the capital. Over the past week, wildfires have flared in Northern California locales normally too wet to burn at this time of year.

On Tuesday KQED’s Mina Kim talked with Matt Weiser, environment reporter for the Sacramento Bee, about potentially severe water conservation measures in Sacramento and the state’s overall water picture:

Soto’s message suggested this 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.

And the message includes sample prayers for Catholic congregations throughout the state:

  • 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.
  • 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.

And here’s one last one, from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference “Rural Life Prayer Book“:

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.

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Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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