'Like the parting of the Red Sea': Benedictine monastery spared by California wildfire
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California's Bobcat fire continues to burn through the Antelope Valley, northeast of Los Angeles. Since sparking on September 6, this fire has destroyed over 100,000 acres of land, making it one of the largest in Los Angles County history. Dry conditions and high winds have done nothing to help the situation.
However, Benedictine Father Damien Toilolo is using this tragedy to reflect on the important things in life.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As the Bobcat fire continued to cross the central San Gabriel Mountains, St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, California found itself in danger of being burned down.
"We left the abbey thinking it would burn down," Fr. Damien told Our Sunday Visitor, noting that he and his 20 fellow Benedictines left their 2,000-acre property. "I was resolved when I went to bed Friday night and said, 'Dear Lord, tomorrow we start planning. What is the new direction you want us to go? Where do you want us to go?'"
St. Andrew's Abbey didn't burn down, though. In fact, the fire went completely around the abbey, sparing its main buildings.
"I thought to myself, 'It's like the parting of the Red Sea.' The fire just went around," Fr. Damien expressed. "God in his mercy saved the abbey for whatever reason. But I can't answer why other people's homes have burned to the ground."
According to Fr. Damien, this whole ordeal can be looked at as "life-teaching moment where we get another perspective on the most important things in life."
It's too early for the monks to return home just yet, as electricity needs to be restored and the local fire department needs to give their all-clear. Currently, the monks of St. Andrew's Abbey are staying at an old convent in Manhattan Beach, with five of them staying in nearby private relatives until they can all return home.
As several large fires continue to rage across California, it's important to keep those in danger and all the first responders protecting and fighting against the fires in our prayers.
Almighty and eternal God, we ask Your protection against destroying fire. Fire is so very necessary for our existence, and yet, when it gets out of control, it can be more damaging than anything else. Keep our homes and buildings and woods and fields safe from this scourge. Help us always to be most careful in our use of it. Help us especially in the winter time when need and use it most. For then, if our homes are destroyed by fire, we suffer more than ever.
Give us, too, we humbly pray You, a saving fear of the fires of passion, and the help of Your grace to control them. Help us also to fear the fires of hell, that we may always keep away from serious sin, and live lives of goodness and virtue, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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