I am sure I echo the sentiments of many people who say: I can’t believe it’s been ten years! That is so true. How hard it is to imagine that a decade has passed since the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Like many of you, I have been hearing and watching the news this past week as people reflect on where they were ten years ago and what they were doing when they heard the news of the attack on the United States. Though I was not here full-time ten years ago, many stories have been told by some of the veteran staff of Old St. Patrick’s who shared such profound experiences of what happened in this church and how people came together in great solidarity and prayer.
For me personally, this weekend carries a wide range of emotion. Though I join with all of you, and indeed the world community, in somber remembrance of the innocent lives that were lost on September 11, 2001 and all those who have died since then, I am also celebrating on Saturday with my family the wedding of my oldest niece! It is a weekend of tremendous joy and yet sobering sadness.
No one is more thrilled than me as I watch and witness with a joyful, grateful heart the marriage of my niece Katie to a wonderful young guy named Dan. As a family, we are so profoundly excited for both of them and I pray a deep prayer of thanksgiving for bringing them (and us) to this moment. You see, my niece is the daughter of my sister who died back in 1983 through an act of violence. Nothing saddens me more than realizing my sister is not here physically to share in the joy of this moment with her daughter. But there will be and there is great rejoicing as holy, divine, powerful love is celebrated on Saturday and beyond with Dan and Katie. No act of violence will stop that reality. I think of the words of St. Paul to the Romans: nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! This is the paschal mystery that unites us as a people of faith: light conquers darkness; life is more powerful than death.
I think about that this weekend as we mark September 11. In the face of senseless violence that takes life; in the face of cowardly acts that divide; in the face of intolerance that separates the human family, we turn for hope to those who give themselves in holy communion. Marriage is not just the literal celebration of two people, but rather it speaks of this sacred reality of the coming together of the human family. September 11 marks a day when violence divided and destroyed human life. May we be reminded of the ways we came together as a church and a country and indeed a world ten years ago not to seek revenge, but more importantly to be reminded of who we are. May the life of the Bridegroom be, for us, an example of the love we are called to live for one another this day and evermore.
Holy Peace to all of you,
Fr. Tom Hurley