LOOK UP IN THE SKY! IT'S, NEW ORLEANS
Oh, as you approach New Orleans, it is nearly as if the sky speaks to you.
Clouds move, darken, lighten, whisper.
They form images (angels, demons, the Cross, skulls?).
A spiritual battle, in New Orleans, it seems: even by the sky, at least through certain eyes.
As we neared the city recently (10/23/14), a rather oddly construed panorama of clouds caught our attention [more photos, below], and, well, upon closer look, perhaps there are certain forms that are there as symbols, wispy ones, just hanging there, imbedded, as the mind interprets them, as the spirit does. Some seem almost to portray the battle between the good angels (or "saints," as this great town is known for; one with a sword, above?), and the bad ones. Few places juxtapose good and evil so clearly (and cleverly).
Louisiana is intense and mysterious and almost a vortex for the supernatural. It's a true battlefield. It is filled with some of the friendliest, most cheerful, celebratory, humorous, generous, sincere, sharp, and content people anywhere on the continent. Going there is like going home. Like nowhere else. Can they cook! From the Cajun swamps to the restaurants in Baton Rouge or Lafayette to the wedding parties through the French Quarter with trombones and saxophones to the acrobats on the street (we saw a fellow slide fifteen feet on the top of his head), there is a spirit of uniqueness, non-conformity, and celebration. It's like this every time we visit. May their culture always remain distinct. A recent survey actually listed this state as the happiest in the United States and who, visiting there, at least many parts of the state, could doubt it?
There is the spirit, too, of devotion. We have said this before: No state is more actively Marian, with places like the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Prompt Succor with her miraculous (and it is miraculous!) statue there or the church harboring the body of Blessed Seelos or churches like Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Joseph. The folks here do old-school Catholicism and do it well -- as well as, or better than, anywhere. Joy comes with the Spirit.
That's the upside, the warriors: they are many.
There is also, yes, the enemy. He is there in other things that transpire in places like the French Quarter or alongside sedate bayous where belching factories unleash carcinogens. There is the pervasiveness of the occult (this week, even a voodoo festival downtown; very, very dangerous!) and there is "Decadence Week," when around Labor Day homosexuals and transvestites assume reins of the quarter, 160,000 of them, often mocking the Church during masquerade parades. (Their version of a Halloween event includes a totally awful and believable image of a muscular demon.) There is the over-drinking and drug use and crime near Bourbon Street (so properly named). Yes, we admit this. It reminds one of the same issues in parts of Greenwich Village, Hollywood, and the Castro in San Francisco.
Is Halloween now a day or an era?
So, as reflected by the clouds (and also the storms), it is a spiritual battle in New Orleans. "Katrina" means "purification." (We'll have "special reports' on spiritual warfare soon.)
Isn't this also the case around the nation? Aren't battles fought everywhere?
Especially now! And we can never brook or "tolerate" it. We can never compromise. Homosexual marriage? No way. It has no place near our Church (nor do "civil unions"). Pornography? Everywhere. The occult? Pure danger, yet spreading rapidly (look at all the ghost tours and "haunted" houses across America this week). When one speaks of juxtaposition -- and of the occult, in the Big Easy -- one thinks of the "fortune tellers" who ply their trade right across the street from august Saint Louis Cathedral, bastion of the downtown (although thankfully we didn't see the palm readers and astrologers this time).
"Unique" is the word.
What character. What talent. What fun. And goodness. Also: what challenges. (You may recall our article on the Super Bowl when the stadium there went dark.)
A metaphor, those clouds, for a city; for our time; for everywhere.
[resources: Spirit Daily's New Bookstore and New: What You Take To Heaven]
[See also: retreat Kansas City]
Mary Undoer of Knots plus The Holy Cloak novena, $7.25
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