Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus Christ!
I had just finished offering the 6:15am Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. I returned to the rectory for breakfast. When I walked into the kitchen, I heard Fr. Frank watching the news on the television in the living room. I will never forget that feeling of helplessness and fear as I watched the planes fly into the twin towers in New York. This experience would forever shape the history and the landscape of our country and our world. Life would never be the same.
Years later, Pope Francis would confront world leaders by addressing a war and violence happening in Syria and elsewhere with prayer and fasting. He asked the faithful and all who have ears to hear: “How many conflicts, how many wars have mocked our history?” He went on to offer these thoughts: “Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death.”
Our Holy Father was speaking clearly and directly as he asked everyone to not add to our brothers and sisters’ heartache. “Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?” “Invoking the help of God under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, the Queen of Peace, I say yes it is possible for everyone. From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone!”
Pope Saint John Paul II once addressed the world concerning the 9/11 attacks:
“Violence begets violence. That is why war should always be considered a defeat: the defeat of reason and of humanity. May a new spiritual and cultural thrust soon lead humankind to banish war. War never again!”
Our Lord is challenging us through the Holy Father to embrace a more in-depth response, one that involves responding to the “misery, desperation and the emptiness in hearts.” May we have the courage to listen to His voice and find ways to heal and live in peace.
September 11th does not pass in the calendar without our remembering. We remember the 2,977 men, women, and children who lost their lives in New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA on that tragic day. We remember images of death and destruction. Images that human eyes were never meant to see. We remember words our ears were never meant to hear, the tender last words of husbands and wives who would never embrace again.
We imagine the feeling of emptiness in the arms of children who at the end of the day could not find mom or dad for their welcome home hug. We remember our own feelings of emptiness as our sense of security, as our own confidence in the predictable order of life and work was radically shaken.
We remember the heroism of the many that lost their lives in saving others. We remember all those who suffered and died, we grieve for them still, friends and strangers alike, along with their families and friends.
And it is right that it should not pass from our memory. But today, along with our remembrance of profound loss, it also seems right that we give voice to our deep longing for peace, and with this prayer, commit ourselves to those actions that will draw us closer to our most ancient and most holy desire, peace among all God’s children.
Dona nobis pacem.
Lord, grant us peace. AmenBACK TO LIST