Long Beach Island celebrates its 10th annual Blessing of the Waves.
As the sun broke the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean and the dolphins played in the surf on Long Beach Island, set-up was underway for the island’s 10th Annual Blessing of the Waves Event.
The event, sponsored by St. Mary’s Parish Youth Ministry in Barnegat, New Jersey, was the first of its kind in Ocean County. From its humble beginnings the event was created to bring the shore community together to celebrate God’s great gift of the sea.
“It’s such a gift to this community,” said a beach-goer who attended, “Being able to have Mass with the sun and the sea all around you really brings you a sense of how glorious God is … it’s like praying in God’s cathedral.”
Over the years local businesses and organizations have generously pitched in to support the event. The local Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth have provided beach access and parking for the event at the Maris Stella Retreat Center, located steps from the beach. The local township of Harvey Cedars waived the beach fees for attendees, giving them a free day at the beach in addition to the Mass. Even RonJon, the surf giant, provided a free surfboard to be raffled off after Mass one year.
At the event’s conclusion, Monsignor Kenard Tuzenue, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, reads the blessing that asks God’s protection upon the lifeguards, surfers, and hundreds of thousands of beach-goers who descend upon the island to enjoy its breathtaking beaches and thundering surf each year.
He then raises a conch shell to his lips and with a mighty puff fills the air with the shell’s throaty howl, marking the beginning of the summer season amid the cheers and applause of those around.
The Official Blessing of the Waves
For the Ancient Hebrews, water was considered the wellspring of life; from the waters of chaos, God created the world (Gen 1:1-2). From the waters of the Great Flood, God recreated the world (Gen 8:13-19). In the semiarid land of Israel, water symbolized both life and death; a good rainfall ensured that people would eat and life would go on; too much or too little rainfall meant that people would starve and death would open its hungry jaws. In the New Testament, water becomes a symbol of spiritual life and renewal, particularly through Baptism.
Pope Benedict XVI and other spiritual leaders have called on all people to commit to the protection of these gifts of nature and preserve them for future generations.
Praise be you, creator God, for the gift of the sea and sand and the endless surf that brings us joy of body and soul. Help us always care for this great ocean so that we and the generations to come may enjoy its beauty and power and majesty.
Bless our surfers, may they hang ten on the oceanic bounty and, if it be in accordance with thy gnarly plan, may they not wipe out.
Bless our lifeguards who guard the precious gift God has given us; the gift of life. Please watch over them and keep them safely in your loving care.
Bless all of us here today in attendance for this event which brings us together in fellowship and as a community in His name,
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.