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.

Honor The Fallen

Outside my office building in the South Shore, the company lowered the American flag to half staff. It honors the memory Sargent Michael Chesna, a Weymouth, MA police officer, who died in the line of duty. Many of us, in the face of violence or disaster, will run for cover. Extraordinary men and women, like Sargent Chesna, with the duty of protecting us, will charge forward. Sadly, some do not return.

We remember their courage, we pray for, and support their loved ones that are left behind. And we also must remember the victims. In this incident, we pray for Vera Adams, shot in her sun room.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them!

Through the mercy of God, may they Rest In Peace!

Mother’s Day – 2018

My mother, Margaret “Marna” Burke Jones, was born on July 30, 1927.  She passed away on June 8, 2013.  She gave birth to six children, of which I was the first.  She, with my father, Bill, raised us all with love and care; always there for us.

She is buried with my father, in a simple, beautiful cemetery in Peabody, MA.

Mon and Dad's Resting Place

One of my brothers left flowers at the gravesite for Mom, and took this picture!

In her memory; and for all mothers, living or deceased, I offer this prayer I came across on the Web:

A MOTHER’S DAY PRAYER

I said a Mother’s Day Prayer for you, to thank the Lord above for blessing me with a lifetime of your tender-hearted love.  I thank God for the caring you have shown me through the years, for the closeness we have enjoyed, in time of laughter and of tears.

And so, I thank you from the heart, for all you have done for me, and I bless the Lord for giving me the best mother there could ever be!

(Author unknown)

Holy Mother and Child

9/11 – An Anniversary of Sorrow and Loss

Our Lady of Sorrows 911Today is the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States that changed this country for years to come.  Never, in the history of the Republic, were so many civilian lives lost through such brutal acts.  There have been other attacks on this country since then, but this particular assault will remain seared in our memories for ages to come.

We pray for the souls of those family members, friends, fellow Americans who were lost.  We pray for those who still grieve for the loss of loved ones.  We grieve for our country, still bearing the scars of that day.  We pray:

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.  Amen.

 

All Souls Day in Beverly – 2015

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:40)

All Souls a 2015On the Catholic Church calendar, yesterday, November 2, 2015, was the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed; also known as All Souls Day.  The Beverly Catholic community celebrated an evening Mass of Remembrance for all the deceased members of the three parishes in the city: St. Mary, Star of the Sea, St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. John the Evangelist.  The Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s, with our pastor, Father Mark, our parochial vicar, Father Karlo, and one of our two deacons, me!  St. Mary’s is one of those 19th century churches that no one can afford to build anymore; with a high vaulted ceiling, beautiful stain glass windows, and an impressive sanctuary.

We had a good turnout of parishioners from all three parishes.  St. Mary’s choir beautifully provided music for the service.  I proclaimed the Gospel reading, which was taken from Matthew 11: 25-30.  Father Mark then gave a very moving homily.  After the homily, he read a roll of those from the Beverly Catholic community, who passed away since November, 2014 till now.  Every votive candle in the church had been gathered in front of the sanctuary; as a deceased person’s name was announced, a candle was lit.  Should a member of the deceased’s family, or a close friend was present; they were invited to light a candle.  Soon, the majority of the candles were lighted, quite a few family members had come up.

A couple of years ago, my mother had passed away; I was an ordained deacon, and I preached at her funeral Mass.  I took as my text, John 14: 1-14 (I think).  I focused on John 14: 2-3: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”  I focused on the theme of pilgrimage; that from the moment we are born, the moment we are baptized, we begin a pilgrimage; a journey of exploration as to what it means to be an adopted child of God the Father.  And this pilgrimage does not end when we die, but it becomes a journey of purification; helped by the prayers of the loved ones we left behind.  Our pilgrimage will end when we finally reach the place that Jesus Christ has prepared for us; and we are in the Holy Presence of our God.

All Souls Day expresses our hope, that those who have gone before us will find the final destination of their pilgrimage soon.  And that they will be praying for us, when we ourselves will begin the next leg of our own life journeys.

All Souls 2015l