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Agatha or Alex

For those along the Gulf Coast, it is well known that today, June 1st, marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th because it is during that time that the seas are their warmest and most humid, making them ripe for hurricanes to develop. Each year there are usually more hurricanes in August and September than at the beginning or end, but those early and late storms still happen.

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One storm has already developed in the Pacific Ocean and hit Mexico on Monday as a Category 2 storm packing 105mph winds.

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This storm was named Agatha, and is currently crossing over Mexico, slowly weakening. If it can reform once it hits the Gulf of Mexico and have a well-formed center and sustained winds at least 39mph then it will be named a tropical storm and will become the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. Meteorologists will give it the name Alex.

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In the past, meteorologists used latitude and longitude numbers to identify different hurricanes. This was useful for the scientists, but it was highly confusing for regular people who were seeking information on whether a storm was going to hit them. To communicate more effectively and keep people safer, meteorologists started naming storms in the 1950s. They started with names according to the phonetic alphabet: Able, Baker, Charlie, etc. It only took a couple of years for them to realize that having the same names for storms each year would be confusing, so in 1953 they started using female names for the storms. After doing this for 25 years, meteorologists started using male and female names when naming storms each year. The list always starts with A and goes through the alphabet, but the names change each year. Here is the list for this year, 2022: (Yes, I realize the 4th name is the same as mine. Hopefully that one is not too destructive.)

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As I’ve been keeping up with the news of Hurricane Agatha this week and its possible name change to Alex, it reminded me of something I’ve been noticing in my recent reading of the scriptures. As I’ve been reading through the book of Acts, it seems like everyone has more than one name!

In Acts 1:23, there’s Joseph, called Barsabbas. In Acts 4:36, there’s Joseph called Barnabas, no those are not the same Joseph. In Acts 10:5, the apostle Peter is “Simon who is called Peter” since back in the gospel of John, Jesus told Simon that he would now be called Cephas (translated as Peter). There are many more, but I just kept seeing them and I kept pointing them out to Nick, joking, “Couldn’t they just stick with one name? Does everyone have to have multiple names?”

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As I’ve been reflecting about this phenomenon that seemed so strange to me, Monday came around and was the feast day for St. Joan of Arc. A few months ago, my wonderful niece chose this name as her Confirmation name. As I wished my niece a happy feast day, I thought about the wonderful tradition in the Catholic faith of choosing a Saint’s name to be your new name once you have been confirmed. In the Bible, often the person’s name was changed when God was calling them to a new purpose in life. He was sending them in a different direction than the one they had been on when they went by their old name. All of us Christians are called to a great purpose when we are confirmed. We are fully enjoined into the Church and take on this new life in Christ.

This week I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the name that you chose at Confirmation. Whatever Saint name you chose, ask God to remind you why you chose this Saint, why this Saint chose you. If you can find time, do some research on that Saint’s life. If they were named a Saint, they must have done something spectacular. Ask that Saint to pray for you, that you might become more like them. If you are an anomaly like me and didn’t choose a confirmation name, then pick a Saint and spend some time with that person. Talk to them, learn about them, pray to God to show you how you can be more like that person. I will be learning more about Catherine of Siena because I’ve been very interested in her recently. (And I have a new book I just got about her life)

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But if you need help deciding which Saint to look into, here is a list of popular Saints. 

I hope that learning more about your Saint is fruitful. I hope that your prayer time is joyous. For now, I leave you with this wonderful prayer of thanksgiving that God has given us such wonderful examples to follow so that we may love Him more perfectly.

Dear God, thank you for the example of the Saints. I desire to join in their company, worshiping you forever in Heaven. Please help me follow their footsteps, and yours, Jesus Christ. Please help me to conform myself to Your image, seeking Your will in all things, as the Saints did. Please help me to devote myself, and all that I do, to Your glory, and to the service of my neighbors. Amen.

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