Remembrance, Recollection, Renewal
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
All anniversaries have several things in common: remembrance of things past, recollection of what it signifies, and renewal of our focus on the future. Every anniversary calls us to remember be it a joyous occasion like a birthday or wedding anniversary or saint’s day, or a solemn one, like an anniversary of a death; be it an earth-changing event such as a destructive earthquake or hurricane, or the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Each anniversary calls us to stop and think about what happened on that day about what it means for us now and in the future.
Our nation’s observance on September 11 of the tenth anniversary of the massive terrorist attacks that killed more than 3000 people in New York, Pennsylvania, and in Washington, DC was like a trumpet call.
We remember. The whole world remembers. The shock. The fear. The sorrow. The tragic loss of life. The self-sacrificing heroism. We recall all this with mourning, with gratitude and with prayer.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, in his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on September 11, called attention to the spiritual aspect of this tragic event. Within every person of faith, he said, there is “an intense spiritual battle that is being waged in the human heart. It’s that battle, that war, that is going on in the human soul that gives rise to all the violence and battles and wars that we see outside.
“It’s a battle between sin and grace, between darkness and light”, the archbishop said. “It’s a war where evil is against good, where death is versus life, lies versus truth, pride against humility, selfishness against selflessness, revenge versus mercy, hate versus love, Satan versus Almighty God”.
Though “it seemed that the side of darkness conquered” on that day, Archbishop Dolan said, “the side of light actually triumphed, as temptations to despair, fearful panic, revenge, and dread gave way to such things as rescue, recovery, rebuilding, outreach, and resilience. The side of the angels, not of the demons, conquered. Good Friday became Easter Sunday. And once again God has the last word”.
We remember this.
Significantly, at the Ground Zero memorial on that day, the President of the United States read Psalm 46 in its entirety:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the City of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God will help her right early.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
He utters His voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
How He has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
He burns the chariots with fire!
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
“Do not be afraid”, Pope John Paul II famously said on becoming pope on October 22, 1978 thirty-three years ago. Those scriptural words of assurance and courage resound in our memories.
Do not be afraid. Christ knows “what is in man”. He alone knows it.
So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.
This year, on May 1, when Pope John Paul II was beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, Catholics were presented with a unique occasion of remembrance of the more than three decades he served the Church and the world as pope. October 22 has been made his feast day in Poland and Rome and until the first anniversary of his beatification, May 1, 2012, his feast may be celebrated anywhere.
For many, this was the only pope they had ever known and for all, the elevation to the papacy of a youthful, energetic, Polish pope was of great historical and spiritual significance. In grateful remembrance of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s profound spiritual influence not only on our own personal lives, nor on Catholics alone, but on all people throughout the world we publish in its entirety in this issue his first homily as pope.
One of Pope John Paul’s great initiatives was World Youth Day, first launched in 1986 in Rome. This August, World Youth Day was held in Madrid. Its theme: “Rooted and Built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith” (Col 2:7). In this issue is Pope Benedict’s homily at the close of WYD, his address to young women religious, and a report by Joanna Bogle, who attended.
October is also the Month of the Rosary. Pope Benedict’s homily on the Rosary at Fatima last year recalled Pope John Paul’s first homily: “Do not be afraid to talk of God and to manifest without fear the signs of faith, letting the light of Christ shine in the presence of the people of today”. In our prayer, Pope Benedict said, we contemplate “the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. (His complete homily is in this issue.)
The Catholic Church in the United States is preparing for another very significant event. On the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, all parishes will be using a new English translation of the Roman Missal. It is an accurate, dignified translation of the prayers of the Latin Missal, many of them more than a thousand years old, and it replaces the hastily translated version in use throughout the English-speaking Church since 1973.
This is a truly historic moment and an achievement for which we are deeply grateful. Many of you are well aware of this, and have read about the progress in our “sister” publication, The Adoremus Bulletin. (You can find more information on the Adoremus web site: adoremus.org, and on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops web site: usccb.org). An article from The Adoremus Bulletin about the need for this change is in this issue.
Some other English-speaking countries have already begun to use the new Missal, and our bishops gave permission to begin to introduce the sung portions of the Mass starting in September, so many parishes have already experienced the new translation.
Catholics will soon “Sing to the Lord a new song”. With the Psalmist, we say: “Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”
Though most of the Latin texts in the Missal are ancient, there are some that are new. The two new dismissals Pope Benedict added urge us all to take up our responsibility for the evangelization of the world:
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life!
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