September 11th – Day of Remembrance

Our Lady of Sorrows 91117 years ago today, the United States was forever changed.  Terrorists hijacked four airliners, intending to make suicide attacks on certain institutions of the United States.  Two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center, in New York City, NY.  A third was plowed into the Pentagon, command central of the U.S. military, in Washington, DC.  On the fourth airplane, passengers and crew attempted to take back control of the plane, the terrorists dove the plane into the ground in Pennsylvania.  The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, from the structural damage caused by the crash, and the fires that followed, collapsed in on itself, killing all those trapped inside.  The Pentagon suffered severe damage, and many military and civilian personnel were either killed or injured.  All together, there was 2,977 victims of the attacks, who died.

On the day this happened, I was working in an office, in downtown Boston, MA.  I could listen on a radio, while I worked; so I was listening to public radio news.  I was shocked when I heard of the first plane crash into the Twin Towers.  The historian in me, remembered a similar crash in 1945; when a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber accidentally crashed into the Empire State Building.  But as time went on, and more stories came over the air waves, I could tell that what was happening was no accident.  Further down the street from where our office building was, was another building that housed the Boston Stock Exchange.  In front, they had a display window, that held large TV screens, showing news and how the markets were performing.  I could see a large crowd gathering in front that display window.  The size of the crowd extended out into the street.

Our bosses called us together, gave us a rundown of what was known, and told us to go home.  I stayed for a bit, I know it seems not to make any sense; but I was not going let any act of terror, keep me from doing my work.  It took a nervous call from my wife to get me to stop and leave the office.  Once outside our building, I found streets and sidewalks normally bustling with cars, trucks, and pedestrians, deserted.  Also, deserted was the train station.  The following mornings, when I would be waiting for the commuter train to take me into the city; I looked up into sky.  Normally, I would see a half a dozen contrails of airline jets flying to and from Logan International Airport.  That day, I only saw a few contrails, and they were circling overhead.  They were jet fighters.

There is not much more I remember of those days that followed the tragedy of 9/11.  I know I attended prayer services.  Prayer intentions for the victims and their families were mentioned at Masses I attended.  Little did I know what the long-term effects would be, resulting from those acts of terror.  Two wars, one still ongoing, to a certain extent, with its share of dead, wounded and families shattered.  We became a country that seems to be constantly on guard; with the individual rights we have held so dear, sometimes willingly given up for security.  In our name, persons have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation;”  torture by any other name is still torture.  And there are still victims of the 9/11 attacks who are dying; dying from the cancers and other illnesses brought on by the smoke and contaminated dust from the Trade Center.

We cannot forget those who lost their lives in the attacks; we must continue to remember them.  We must pray for and support the survivors; those who lost love ones; and those who are still trying to deal with the effects of those days on their minds and souls.  And honor to those first responders, in the past, today, and in the future; those who charge forward into danger, when others may flee.

I close this reflection with a prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, asking her intercession for us all in these dangerous times:

Remember, most loving Virgin Mary, never was it heard that anyone, who turned to for help, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, though burdened by my sins, I run to your protection for you are my mother.  Mother of the Word of God, do not despise my words of pleading, but be merciful and hear my prayer.  Amen.

 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.  And let the perpetual light shine upon them.

And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Walls

Thoughts I had walking to the train station.

Blog 0629If you build walls, physical, ideological, monetary; you can lose empathy for those on the other side. When you build gated communities, physically or by zoning, you can lose empathy for those who cannot get in. When you build a wall of social media around yourself, that only gives you what you want to see, hear and read; you might lose empathy for those who might have a different opinion.

A lack of empathy, can lead to lack of respect for the other as a human person. Lack of respect can lead to an unwillingness to discuss, debate, and perhaps find understanding, and common ground. An unwillingness to at least talk, can lead to anger and hatred.

We are approaching the anniversary of the birth of the republic, yet there are some who are talking about a second Civil War brewing. In respect for those who who sacrificed their fortunes, their lives for the concept of “We, the People of these United States,” we need to find the courage to break down these walls; reach out and shake the hand of our fellow citizens.

May the God, who broke down the walls of Jericho, help us break down the walls we have built around us.  May the Father who broke open the tomb of Jesus Christ on Easter morn,  break open our hearts to the needs of others.  May he help us reach out to others, and recognize that we are all brothers and sisters, with the same Father.

May God bless, and inspire the people of these United States of America!

In Memoriam

On this date, during the running of the 2013 Boston Marathon, two brothers set off two bombs near the finish line. Three persons were killed, and a estimated 264 injured, about sixteen required amputations. The youngest fatal casualty was 8 year Martin Richard. The pictured statue of him was erected on the campus of Bridgewater State University, MA, by his parents who both graduated from BSU.

Five years has passed, but the experience of that day, and the days that followed still stir feelings. I was working at my office, when alerts came in over the internet, and news flashes over the radio. We could not believe that something like that could happen in Boston. Later on, I walked down towards Copley Square, to the barricades set up around Boylston St., near the Finish Line. Flowers, balloons, notes, and running shoes adorned the fences. The area beyond the barricade, which on a normal day would be bustling with pedestrians and cars was deserted. I felt a great of sadness (still do) over the loss of life; for the surviving wounded.

A memorial service was held in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross. In one of the largest churches in Boston, built by labor and resources of mostly Irish Catholic immigrants, peoples of all races, faiths, and beliefs, came together. Together, they prayed for, and remembered the deceased and the survivors. They came together to unite as a city, a commonwealth, and a nation.

Now five years later, other tragedies continue to afflict this country, and other countries and peoples as well. Like Boston, most communities struggle to continue on, So the Marathon goes on, the runners will be gathering at Hopkinton, under heavy storm clouds to be sure, but they will run.

On a spiritual note, the Marathon reminds me of what St. Paul wrote in his Second Letter to Timothy:

“But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. For I am already poured like a libation; and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4: 5-7)

In moments of hard times, difficult times, tragic times, we need to turn to Jesus Christ. He said he would be with us always. In Christ, we will find guidance, strength, and hope. With him beside us, within us, we will be able continue the race, and win “the crown of righteousness” that awaits us who keep the faith.

What Happens Next?

Country Mourns 1A week later, our nation is still in mourning over the tragedy occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada. 58 individuals confirmed dead; over 500 individuals wounded, some critically. And for an untold number of families and friends of victims; and the citizens of Las Vega, their lives have been turned upside down forever. What makes this event even more frightening, is that authorities still cannot get a handle on a motive; why did a person, for no reason at all, slaughter innocent persons? In many ways, that question alone is terrifying.

Prayer services and remembrances are being held in Las Vegas, and across the country. Politicians are sending condolences and words of comfort to the victim’s loved ones. There are some politicians, however, who have refused to join in such ceremonies or gatherings. They do so because such events have become far too frequent in this nation because of far too many mass shootings. They want actions that will help prevent something like this from happening again. And then, there are those who wish to mute the uproar; who are passionate about their interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They feel that any discussion on the issue of gun control, will deny them of their rights, of their way of life.

So, here is where I go out on a limb. There is a part of me that is a pacifist, who is against the use of lethal force. An early Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, of which I am a member, forbade it members to carry weapons, (during the Middle Ages, that would get you in very hot water!). Yet, at that the same time, I am a pragmatist/realist. I know that American gun culture is here to stay. I am not against those who hunt; whether for need or for sport. I am not against those who feel the need to have a licensed weapon for protection. And I know that lethal force sometimes must be used to defend oneself, and others. What I am against, is the unregulated proliferation of weapons, especially military class automatic or semi-automatic weapons, which are designed to kill as many persons, as rapidly as possible. We have seen what havoc these weapons can wreck upon a community, when they are in the hands of an unstable individual. Yet, our politicians are, in many cases, afraid even to debate or just discuss measures to address this, for fear of the powerful gun lobby.

I pray that reason will take hold again in this country; I pray that our political leaders will be able to sit down with each, and discuss a way forward, that both respects the legitimate desires of gun owners, and will protect citizens from another tragedy like Las Vegas.

I feel the need to quote from Scripture; it might be out of context, but at this moment, it speaks to me:

Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  (Matt 26:50-52)

I hope soon we will all put our “swords” back into its sheath.

In the Face of All This Hate.

Just after the violence of Charlottesville, after watching scenes of white supremacists, and neo-nazis, carrying torches, and chanting hate; I saw a tv trailer.  It was on PBS, and it was a scene from Ken Burns famous documentary, “The Civil War.”  The scene was of a new military cemetery, located on the battlefield of Gettysburg.  The actor, Sam Waterston, as Abraham Lincoln, was speaking the words of the Gettysburg Address.  Here is a portion:

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, not long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

We are all “the people,”  descendants of those who sought to create “a more perfect union.”  The process has been messy, bloody, imperfect, and at the same time wonderous and life giving.  We cannot surrender the process to the haters, the greedy, the terrorists, and the self-serving.  We must work together, with respect, with dialogue, and with peace in our hearts.  This ideal must not “perish from the earth!”  So help us God!

Weekend Coffee Share – July 30, 2017

The water is heated in the Keruig, and coffee is pouring into the cup.
The unpacking is pretty much done, all the cardboard boxes broken down and tossed away.  My books are on the shelves, the ones that survived the culling.  Lately, I have come to the realization that I have not read as many books as I used to.  Now, a lot of my reading is done with this darn smartphone.  I am determined to change that, catch up on the unread books, revisit the read ones.  And hopefully, I will recapture the joy of holding a printed work in my hands.

I am still working at getting a new deacon assignment here in the South Shore.  There are some leads, we will just have to let the process workout.

This will a quick cup tonight.  Hopefully, I will more to write about, more to comment about, next weekend. 

Reform and the Roman Curia

Pope Francis was supposedly elected by the College of Cardinals to initiate reforms in the Vatican. For many Western Catholics, this meant doing something about the clergy abuse of children. Things looked hopeful for awhile; with the creation of a papal commission to propose reforms. The commission was headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, MA; and included some survivors of clergy abuse.

Now, the last clergy abuse survivor on the commission has resigned. She has cited resistance from Curia members to proposed reforms; including a court to try bishops who either failed to deal with incidences of abuse or who protected accused priests.

While members of the Roman Curia deny this; there are reports of Curial officials just ignoring papal directives for reform. They may be figuring that they can wait out this Pope.

Maybe it is time for Pope Francis to take at one lesson from Trump; and became a “papal bull” on the Curial “china shop.” Maybe it is time to break it all down and begin from scratch!

(This my first post via e-mail.)