Thursday, April 23, 2009

Into the Earth

Tomorrow brings another emotional marker of the tenth archbishop's first days in Gotham, as Tim Dolan makes an early morning visit to Ground Zero.

The pilgrimage to the site of the fallen World Trade Center begins with a 7.30am Mass at St Peter's, the historic downtown church adjacent to the gaping crater left by the Twin Towers' collapse on 9/11. At 9.00, Dolan will descend into the hole to offer prayers.

The stop's been much on the new arrival's mind in the weeks since his appointment to New York; the archbishop used a hopeful story from the site in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in his Easter morning homily in Milwaukee just before his departure for the Big Apple, and Dolan cited the exemplary witness of Franciscan Fr Mychal Judge -- the fire chaplain who was the day's first casualty on the ground -- alongside that of the city's canonized saints in his installation talk last week.

The tribute to the city's first responders continues into the weekend; early Sunday, the archbishop will celebrate the annual Mass for the NYPD's Holy Name Society in St Patrick's Cathedral, where he presided over the FDNY's Holy Name rites last weekend.

A day after the first of two plenary gatherings with the entire New York presbyterate, Dolan's spending this afternoon in his first meeting with his council of priests. Already, monthly sit-downs with the secular clergy's elected representatives have been scheduled into the summer.

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On a related note, Dolan's Ground Zero homage comes a year to the week after Pope Benedict made his own early-morning stop at the site in the final hours of his three-day visit to New York.

Along those lines, it's worth recalling the prayer offered by the pontiff on that cold, cloudy April morning:
O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths
and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.