19 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, conflicts in the Middle East still being fought, with its share of dead, wounded and families shattered. 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 are now struggling through another crisis; fighting a foe that is invisible, but very, very deadly. And to me, there is a different feeling throughout the country. We are not as united as we were once were against a common threat. Conflicts over individual rights versus the common wellbeing. A government on national, state and local levels splintered over politics; rather than the common good.
However, we still 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.
In the times we are in currently, all Christians need to read this. Those that do, may not agree, may even strongly disagree with Mr. Wallis; but his words may cause serious thought. Some of the serious questions it raised for me was, how closely do we ally ourselves to a particular government, a particular party? And will that alliance water down the Gospel message? We are challenged to reconsider what it means to be a practicing Christian in today’s world. I have doubts about my own strength, knowledge and faith! It calls for deep reflection and above all prayer.
1st Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a; Romans 9: 1-5; Matt 14: 22-33
I grew up in the North Shore of Massachusetts. Now, while I was a young boy, my father and one of my uncles’s co-owned a small, wooden outboard motor boat. We would bring it up with us to the Sebago lakes region, where we usually rented adjoining cabins. Now they also used to take the boat out into Lynn Harbor, where they, myself, my brothers and cousins would sometimes go fishing. Now one Saturday, it started out to be a beautiful day. We were just at the entrance of the harbor, almost into the ocean, when suddenly, this squall hit! I mean the waves started getting very big, the boat was bouncing all over the place, as my father and uncle tried to get the boat to an anchorage. After one big bounce, the rear bench we kids were on, suddenly broke, and we were sprawled on the bottom of the boat. What had been an adventure, was turning into something very scary. We finally made it safely to the Nahant town dock. But I will never forget how scared; how really scared I was.
In today’s Gospel, we see the disciples going on ahead of Jesus, by boat on the Sea of Galilee, they also, run into very rough weather, they too were being tossed about by the waves. The fishermen of the group were probably concerned, the landlubbers in the group were probably scared out of their wits. On top of everything else, there is this figure moving towards them through the stormy water, so they think, it’s got to be a ghost, right? Then Jesus calls out “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Now, Peter, wanting proof, asks Jesus to command him to come out and meet him on the water. He probably also wants to show Jesus that he has the right stuff, unlike these landlubbers. And Jesus calls him to come out to him. And he is doing it, up to a point. He suddenly realizes he is walking on water, in the middle of a squall, and he thinks “Holy “bleep!!”; what am I doing out here!!” He begins to sink into waves, and Jesus has to rescue him! So what happened? He had begun to looked at the storm around him, losing sight of Jesus, and giving into his fears! What was it Jesus said to the disciples when they first saw him, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
We are living in frightening times! We see a threat to our health, to our lives that appears invisible, but is very, very real. We see an economy that was once the envy of the world, come crashing down. We have people out there in our community, who are afraid, because they do not know how they will pay bills, buy food, pay rent or mortgage! No matter how much we may deny it, I am willing to bet that everyone one of us feels something of the fear that is abroad in this country, in this world.
“Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peter ran into trouble because he was not focused on Jesus! We can give into fear, if we are not focused on Jesus Christ, the Son of God! We need to become aware of His Presence in our lives, in every moment. We need to really listen and focus on His Word! We are all called to look to the altar, where we see ordinary bread and wine, that will soon become the Body and Blood of Christ! And we will receive Him, and be strengthened by Him for the times that ahead. The problems may not disappear, they may get better, they may get worst. But we are not alone in our struggles, we not alone with our fear; Jesus is with us in this journey. He will always be with us, supporting us in the midst of whatever storm we are in!
“At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
So, going back to an old blog type; If we were sharing a cup of coffee, I would tell how hard it has been to keep up with the blogging! I can give a bunch of excuses; my laptop went on the fritz; it took awhile to get my new IPad up and running. And I could finally admit that I really having a bad dry spell.
But over a cup of coffee, I would share that on this weekend, here on Cape Cod, I am feeling at least a little inspiration. The Franciscan in me has been more aware of the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds me.
O praise and bless my Lord, thank him and serve humbly and grandly,
Excerpts from The Canticle of the Creatures by Saint Francis of Assisi!
The coffee cup is empty, and time to get ready for the next. May the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, Holy Mother of God, who are the virgin made church and who are the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven, whom he consecrated with his most holy beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, and in whom there has been and is all the fullness of grace and every good. Hail, His Palace! Hail, His Tabernacle! Hail, His Home! Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Handmaid! Hail, His Mother!……..And all you holy virtues, who through the grace and illumination of the Holy Spirit have been poured into the hearts of the faithful, so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.
This prayer was composed by St. Francis of Assisi.
It has been a long time since I have tried to create any content on this blog. Since I have been silent, a lot has happened in the World, the Nation, and the Church. Despite all this, I have found it hard to, as one blogger puts it; “Hit those damn keys!”
I have found a group of parishes, a Collaborative, to minister as a Deacon, yet because of my work schedule, I have no time for ministry, outside of a liturgical ministry. Even that is not as available, because each Collaborative parish has it’s own homegrown Deacon. I preach, but getting a homily written is proving to be very difficult. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has been with me, and my sermons have been well received.
Now, we find ourselves in a time of crisis; a health crisis. The pandemic, that is known as the Coronavirus is sweeping the world. The country is in crisis; the Church is in crisis! And we really do not know yet how it is all going to turn out. Yet the most moving sight for me, was of Pope Francis, alone in a dark, empty, rainswept St. Peter’s Square. He was praying for the people the world, and the Church. He ended the service by going into the basilica, then came out out again, holding a golden monstrance, which held a consecrated Host; the Body of Christ. Making the sign of the cross with the monstrance, bestowing a blessing “Urbi et Orbi;” to the City of Rome and to the World. In spite of the virus, in spite of death, fear, despair; the love of Christ is with us now and forever.
I am typing this on my new IPad; hopefully it will help me be a little more inspired. And be able to make a little more since. May the Lord be with you all. Be safe; be at peace.
October 11th – Feast of St. Pope John XXIII
“All powerful and ever living God, you called St. John XXIII to guide your people by his word and example. With him, we pray to you; watch over the pastors of your Church, with the people entrusted to their care, and lead them to salvation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen!
From the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer, Common of Pastors.
To quote Thomas Paine, “These are times that try men (and women) souls.” We have experienced once again the horrors of mass shootings, in El Paso TX, and Dayton, OH. It should shake everyone’s being down to their souls. No other country, that is not at war or in civil strife, has suffered the casualties we have in the United States, from gun violence. People from around the world cannot understand how a country, so modern, like the United States, can let this bloodletting continue.
The answer is both simple and complicated. There are those in this country who feel they are losing control of it. That immigrants and of other races are taking what was once theirs; jobs, control of local governments. They see government, especially the Federal government taking away their lands, their jobs, for protection of the environment. They see gun ownership as the only means to protect what they see as their rights. This might only express some of the reasons why the country is so full of hate, so divided; and why some feel driven to pick up the gun.
But Jesus has said, “All who take the sword will die by the sword.” (MT 26:52). What is called for are laws to remove or at least control access to military style weapons. There also must be dialogue between peoples, to understand the desires, the needs, and the fears of all sides. We need a responsible government, whose goals are to preserve the general welfare, and not their own political power.
Jesus said that the primary commandment for his followers was to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. The second important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. The challenge of these two commandments have always been before us. Never before in our society’s history, had meeting that challenge been so important!