I’m originally from Kansas, the state known around the globe as the land of tornadoes. (In fact, other spots, but thanks to Dorothy and Toto, Kansas has the reputation.)
Growing up, we retreated to the basement a number of times, but luckily our homestead never sustained any damage.
Now I live far from tornado alley, but in my new hometown, the clay soil makes it tricky and expensive to build basements — so there basically aren’t any. I miss having the storage space, but since tornadic activity is extremely uncommon here, it’s usually not a problem.
Today was an exception though. When I heard we were under a tornado warning (and that a tornado was on the ground just 10 or so minutes west of here), my husband and I quickly tossed everything out of the closet beneath the stairway and herded my mom and children inside
An interior closet doesn’t offer the kind of protection a basement does, so I was feeling plenty nervous and my kids even more so. Naturally, in those moments, the heart turns to prayer, and to the fragility of life, and to trust in God’s mercy.
Words might not come easily, though, so why not post this Prayer for a Tornado Shelter in your designated safe spot, or tuck it in the side of the emergency kit.
Prayer for a Tornado Shelter
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
The Lord is our keeper;
The Lord will keep us from all evil;
he will keep our life in his hands.
Under thy protection, we take refuge, O Mother of God:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble,
but rescue us from dangers.
Heavenly Father, send your angels to take charge of us,
to guard us in all our ways.
On their hands, may they bear us up.
We cling to you in love, deliver us.
Protect us, for we know your name.
Be with us in this trouble.
Rescue us and honor us.
Satisfy us with long life and your salvation.
Have mercy on us Lord. When we stand before your face, show leniency toward our wretchedness.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Holy Mary, queen of angels, pray for us.
Angels of God, pray for us.
My guardian angel and the guardian angels of each of us here, pray for us.
St. Joseph, protector of the family, pray for us.
Scripture tells us of how successfully the angels are able to ward off threats.
I love the imagery from Psalm 121 in the first lines. It makes me think of war movies or old Westerns, when the besieged protagonist is crouched behind some scraggly bush, quickly running out of ammo, and suddenly from the hill on the horizon, rank on rank of replacements come galloping in.
The “Under your protection” prayer to Our Lady is the, dating as far back as only 200 years after Christ. Just think of the generations of Christians who have had these words on their lips in times of trouble.
I also love invoking the angels in times of physical danger. Scripture tells us of how successfully they are able to ward off threats. Just think of what Daniel reported after a night in the lions’ den: “My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me” (6:23). This prayer draws from the promise of the angels in Psalm 91.
Finally, the line about entrusting our souls to God’s mercy comes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his “Last Testament.”