Hurricane Special 2023: Licensed professional counselor says prayer promotes mental health

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - If you feel you have done all you can to prepare for hurricane season, some ask this: Have you prayed? It may not be for everyone, but many in Southwest Louisiana are convinced of the power of prayer and its ability to improve your mental health.

At the beginning of each hurricane season, the bishop and other faithful say special prayers aimed at averting hurricanes in a place where so many scars remain.

At Christ the King Church, on June 1, the mass was in a temporary building, yet, prayers were just as fervent.

“We are all gathered here to pray for protection from all storms and destructive weather. Let us therefore ask almighty God that we all be protected and watered from the springs of his blessings and life,” prayed Bishop Glen John Provost, from the front of the church.

Others continued to our Lady Star of the Sea Shrine in Cameron. The church is closed since Hurricane Laura, but it’s holy ground to some. They pray to Jesus and Mother Mary for protection, including a litany.

“Queen of angels,” says the leader. “Pray for us,” respond the people. “Queen of patriarchs.” “Pray for us.” “Queen of prophets.” “Pray for us.”

They recite the hurricane prayer penned by The Most Reverend Maurice Schexnayder, Second Bishop of Lafayette, following Hurricane Audrey in 1957.

“Spare us from past tragedies,” the people pray.

The faithful say it helps on many levels.

“When you put your life in God’s hands then everything works out. You don’t have to worry about it,” said Joe Bond, who traveled from Lake Charles to the shrine.

Licensed professional counselor Bruce Plauche of Lake Charles said nurturing one’s spirituality is an important part of being mentally healthy.

“In psychology, we have something called the eight dimensions of wellness. And spirituality is a big component of that model,” said Plauche.

If you live in Southwest Louisiana, there is nothing like a hurricane to raise your anxiety, your blood pressure and maybe even trigger a panic attack. Plauche said those who pray are often calmer and more confident that whatever happens, they will get through it.

“In the psychology field, a lot of times we are working toward acceptance, accepting things as they are. A priest once told me, when we pray, we are we are not just praying to change what happens, but to accept what happens. And I think that’s where mental health and spirituality kind of come together,” said Plauche.

It’s not necessarily about religion. He said a spiritual person is more likely to be at peace and think more clearly.

“We do make better decisions and are able to face adversity in a much better way. Whereas whenever we’re allowing our shoulders to creep up, our breathing to get shallow, that cuts off oxygen flow to your brain and we’re not going to make better decisions. We’re going to make panicked decisions and our emotions are going to be governed by our panic,” he said.

Even if things don’t go as hoped, heartfelt, fervent prayers do help the faithful cope with whatever comes.

“It’s just like all the saints said. God will never abandon you. God is always going to be there for you personally,” said Bond.

Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or journaling, find your way to the stillness.

Prayer for Protection during hurricane season:

“O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spares us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.”