Sept. 11 and the Cross

A priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who was ordained a few brief years before 2001 related this story, reflecting on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001:

“I was assigned to a wonderful parish, but at the time, it did not have a crucifix in the sanctuary. They had a big, beautiful bronze resurrected Christ.

“One day, a few weeks after September 11, 2001, I was praying vespers in the church by myself and a man approached me in the church. He asked me where he could find the crucifix because he wanted to offer his pain and suffering in prayer, united to that of Jesus on the cross.

“Embarrassed, I told the man that the only crucifix we had was in the church meeting room. That man, who only wanted to pray before an image of the crucified savior in a Catholic church, looked at me and simply said, ‘Why do you want to hide away your cross?’ Soon after that, in addition to an altar cross, we placed a crucifix in the sanctuary.

“A question then: ‘Why do we want to hide away our crosses?’ Because I know that I do, all the time. I don’t even want to acknowledge that I have crosses. And I certainly do not want to carry them. The cross makes me uncomfortable.

“A sign of Christian maturity is recognizing that everybody hurts, even yourself, and then not fixating on it, trying to stop suffering. I can’t. You can’t. It’s part of the fallen human condition. What it means for me is to unite suffering to that of Jesus’ and see it as redemptive. That’s the triumph of the cross. The key is to hope. ‘Perfect love casts out all fear.’ The cross shows us what wonderous love that love himself has for us. It can be no other way. So, we say today, Ave Crux Spes Unica. The cross of Christ is our only hope.”

Prayer of Remembrances from 9-11 from Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan:

Lord of Mercy, Prince of Peace,

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory.

This day does not pass in the calendar without our remembering.

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.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory.

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.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory.

And it is right that it should not pass from our memory. But today and in this prayer, 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. Amen.

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