Prayer for Good Weather
The last few weeks of weather are wearing on me. Normally around this time of year, I’m fishing the Susquehanna big water. So far this summer, I’ve yet to wet a line there. The rain keeps coming; the rivers rise, dirty up, and start settling down, and then the cycle repeats. I feel a little like General George S. Patton must have felt in December 1944, when he faced an impossibly bad string of nasty weather. Patton was rushing his Third Army north to relieve the beleaguered Bastogne, which had been surrounded during the German Army’s bold attack through the Ardennes. His counter-attack later became known as The Battle of the Bulge.
The foul weather had been one of the German Army’s greatest allies during its counteroffensive. The relentless rain had turned roads into muddy sluices and the fog was so thick that visibility could be measured in yards. The weather stalled movement and kept bombers and ground support aircraft grounded. The German’s historic breakthrough, a last ditch attempt by Hitler to counter the Allied Army’s advance, could have been achieved if it had not been for one weapon few would have believed a general, especially General Patton, had in his arsenal.
Patton had a reputation, after all, as a hard-nosed, hard-charging, commander, affectionately known by his men as “old blood and guts”. This is the man that is quoted to have addressed his troops prior to the Normandy invasion with the following Ned-Flanderesque motivational speech (excerpts, as the speech is quite lengthy):
“I want you men to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other dumb bastard die for his country. All this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of this war is a lot of horseshit. Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
Some of you men are wondering whether on not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you’ll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do. There’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want any messages saying we’re holding our position. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by his balls and kick the hell out of him all the time. We’re going through him like crap through a goose.”
So what was Patton’s secret weapon? Read the following quote recorded by Msgr, James H. O’Neill, Patton’s Chief Chaplain of the Third Army:
“We’ve got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer “as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate”], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.”
Yes indeed, the General must have had an open line to the big fly fisherman upstairs, a line he believed could clear up the weather so he could slay German soldiers by the thousands and march on to Berlin. Patton directed his Chief Chaplain to write a prayer and to distribute some 250,000 copies to the soldiers of the Third Army. Then he asked his men to pray, thinking all that praying just couldn’t be ignored.
The prayer cards were distributed to the Third Army on December 12 – 14. Patton then wheeled his great army to the north to attack on December 19th. On the following day, the rain stopped, the fog lifted and the skies cleared. The rest is history.
So why not adopt Patton’s prayer for good weather for an all-out assault on our great creeks and rivers? If enough of us pray, imagine the good fishing, just in time for the fall feeding frenzy!
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle fishing. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers fly fishers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory fishery to fishery, and cast to the oppression oppressed and wickedness famished fish of our enemies and establish Thy justice happiness among men fly fishermen and nations their blogs.