It was just after 10:46:40 PM on the evening of September 11, 2001, in the chapel of the major seminary of the diocese of Wagga Wagga, Australia (14 hours ahead of us), during a Holy Hour (I taught Scripture and languages in that seminary) that one of the seminarians ran into the chapel and – out loud – said that I had to come and look at the television. I ignored him.
A few minutes later another seminarian came in to fetch me saying it was really important. America was being attacked. There are planes… I went. He ran down the long hallway the length of the seminary. I ran as best I could. Now I was worried.
I looked at the television screen and made the sign of the cross. I still tear up and get angry all at the same time.
As I listen to the names of those who died on September 11, 2001 during those terrible attacks, what comes to mind now as well is a scene I saw some hundreds of times play out in Lourdes, France, when I was (helping) to lead the usual afternoon Eucharistic Procession from inside the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. When the procession came down the huge ramps into the Basilica proper, coming up to the main Altar, I couldn’t help but think that this is how things will look when the little flock on this earth make their way to the gates of heaven. How’s that?
As the wheelchairs and hospital beds on wheels were rolled in, followed by those who hobble along and walk, just as they were, all of broken humanity coming before the Divine Son of the Living God, I then imagined that, as they came in through the gates, they all got up from their wheelchairs and hospital beds, all beginning to leap for joy in their humble thanksgiving and reverence before Jesus, our Messiah, Our Lord and God.
May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
But, again… where were you?