Saturday, September 10, 2011

Commemorating 9-11: In Mary, Christians and Muslims Find a Common Path

From the current edition of The Catholic Key, by Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn:

In its first joint statement after the 9-11, 2001, tragedy the United States Bishops echoed the hope and promise of our Lord: His formula for holiness with which He introduces the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted….
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy….
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Mt. 5:4,6,7,9)


“These words of Jesus challenge us,” the bishops wrote, “and offer us hope today as our community of faith responds to the terrible events of September 11 and their aftermath.”

The November 14, 2001 statement went on to prayerfully remember all who were killed and wounded, and to honor “the selflessness of firefighters, police, chaplains, and other brave individuals who gave their lives in the service of others. They are true heroes and heroines. … In these difficult days, our faith has lifted us up and sustained us. Our nation turned toward God in prayer and in faith with a new intensity.”

Ten years later we still experience the changes that, because of the terror of a day, continue to have their effect on the way we do business, on airport security, and the interchange between cultures.

Ten years later we can still see the need for healing. For those who lost a family member or friend or work associate, the need may be deeper as the effects of the tragedy are more lasting and profound. The necessity of supernatural faith and Christian hope is real. Far beyond material compensations, these supernatural graces from God are perhaps the only context in which the work of reparation can commence. Jesus Christ’s way of forgiveness and life is the only path that has the capacity to reach peace.

Several years ago I became acquainted with two women from New York. Erin von Uffel enthusiastically told me about a French Daughter of Charity, Sr. Marie de Mandat Grancey, who had given up her position of nobility and wealth in France to serve the sick and the poor in Paris and later in Turkey. She cared for Christian and non-Christian children near Smyrna, and went on to find the House of the Blessed Mother, Mary on a hill above ancient Ephesus.

Both Erin and her friend and co-worker Lorraine Fusaro had known people killed in the 9-11 attack. These two women of faith had begun to see the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation as vital steps on the road to peace. In their experience of Mary’s House in Ephesus, they saw a place where every year millions of pilgrims came to ask the intercession of Mary in her maternal love. The extraordinary difference in this ‘Christian’ shrine was that the majority of those who came to Mary’s House in Ephesus were Muslims. Here the children of Mary were gathering, Christian and Muslim alike, to seek favors from this Woman who is heralded in the Christian Bible and the Koran. Erin and Lorraine also saw Sr. Marie as a modern day instrument and holy apostle whom God used to reestablish this holy place where – in God’s own mysterious way – diverse creeds could find a common path to God.

Our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, in another mysterious way, has been given a special role to play in studying the life of Sr. Marie, whom God used to provide a place where perhaps even the tragedy of 9-11 could be reversed, where Christians and Muslims together might come and pray, and find refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attack, let us pray for healing for all those who sorrow over the terrible losses of that day. Let us pray for renewal in our nation based on our deep supernatural faith in God; for reconciliation and peace with any we may regard as our enemies. After the example of Sr. Marie, who served the Christian and Muslim people of Turkey; through the intercession of Mary, Theotokos, Mother of God and Mother of all people, may we find a true path to the beatitude, reconciliation and peace to which we are called by Jesus Christ.

A resolution has been passed in our country recommending, on Sunday, September 11, 2011, “the observance of a moment of remembrance or prayer to last for 1 minute beginning at 1:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (12 Noon Central), to the maximum extent practicable, by

a) ceasing all work or other activity; and
b) marking the moment in an appropriate manner, including by ringing bells, blowing whistles, or sounding sirens.”
Certainly, for us as Catholics, this can be a special moment of prayer, and, pastors may direct church bells to be rung, if possible.