Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Anticipating September 11

In the early 1970's, when I was studying for the priesthood in Yonkers, there was a late summer evening when I was traveling toward Manhattan in my yellow VW. The traffic had slowed to pay a toll to enter the tunnel. Out my left window I saw this amazing and mesmerizing thing (a kind of vision really). I couldn't take my eyes off of it and felt the importance of witnessing it - that I might never see something this beautiful again.

Then on September 11, 2001, watching the towers come down, I remember the moment of realizing that as they crumbled, there were fire, police and rescuers of every kind rushing UP to help. A few days later I learned that a young friend's dear husband and much-loved mother were both lost. 

Where people do terrible things that cause destruction and death, there are others who help. We might pray for them today.

We might pray for people in leadership positions and ask for them to hold all the world and its welfare in their efforts and not just the concerns of their own nation.

Wherever there are terrorist acts, children suffer: in marketplaces, schools, streets, at recreation, in their homes. We might hold the world's children in our thoughts today.

Terrorism takes us to the cemetery. We might pray for people in mourning today - especially those who bury family members.

Religion is about personal change or it's about nothing. We might pray today for those who foment terrorist acts in the name of God, for the healing of their sin and  their conversion to love.

While the United States mourns the sadness of the day's events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, we have to remember that this kind of loss is everyday in other places.

There is a weeping icon of the Mother of  God (Kardiotissa ~ Of The Heart)  in Taylor, Pennsylvania. The tears are not watery tears of emotion but myrrh-tears - oil tears that are more like healing medicine. The world needs those tears.

Mother of God Kardiotissa ~ of the Heart


  1. Many of us look back on September 11 and remember the events of that day. But my heart and prayers go out to those who still grieve a loss from that tragic time.

  2. How lovely to think that Mary is shedding healing tears for us. A Mother to us all. The whole world is in need of these tears. It is much more inspiring to think that she is helping our hearts to mend, rather than to think she is weeping tears of sadness as if all hope is lost.

  3. There is just no way to put it all into words as I sit here on the eve of what I think is still a day of mourning. Over a decade later the wounds are still so fresh. I think about all those that were lost. I think about all we lost that day as a people! But also let us think about all those who came together to offer aid and prayers. I am thankful for the goodness left in humanity. Let us not forget the good in people. Count your blessings.

  4. Let us pray for peace throughout the world. Where the horrors of gun violence and terrorism and war prevail as a way of life, we pray for change. Today we remember for ourselves Do not forget there is a tomorrow for everyone else.

  5. Thank you Father Stephen for putting it all into the simplest perspective.
    The things that are taken for granted we humbly remember today.

    Also a much appreciated thank you for these few words every other day.
    I've been following all the blogs & comments with anticipation.

    1. For me, the key word in your reply here is "humbly remember". Humble: contrasted with the other way of vanity, pride, arrogance, being overly confident....

  6. The comments today mirror my thoughts exactly as I read today's entry.. Thanks to everyone who put their thoughts into words for us. And thank you Father for this blog, letting us all share in your reflections. It has been a spiritual journey.

  7. Perhaps someday we will all be allowed to properly remember 9-11. This day should not be just another day running to the office, picking up the kids from soccer and finishing homework before the evening activities begin. Today should be a National Holiday, a day to truly take a pause from routine...not an excuse for retail to advertise a 9-11 sale. September 11 should be a day to reverently remember and perhaps actively celebrate the memory of our departed friends and relatives and the resilience of the American spirit that rose up above the destruction of 9-11 and continues to survive today.

  8. To see the Towers brings back haunting memories. To see it on TV is one thing, however, the fact that I could see the smoke rising up form Downtown Manhattan for what seemed like endless days, will never leave my thoughts on Sept. 11. I can only think of all the lives that perished in those minutes. People who kissed their loved ones goodbye on their way to work. We never know what may come to us minute by minute. We need to live life the best that we can. Humbly, compassionately, embracing the ones who love us and welcoming the strangers and oppressed among us.