September 11, 2011 - 9/11 Ten Years Later

While this didn't happen today, we wanted to continue our 9/11 Series by adding an update about the recent mass from Sunday. Thousands gathered on Library Quad to hear Fr. Jenkins preside at the mass and then hear Fr. Malloy reflect on that day. On Monday, there was an Observer Special Edition recapping the events from both masses and reprinting the front page of the Observer from 2001.

The following essay was written by a 1987 alumnus after just returning home from the mass. It does a fantastic job of capturing the emotions from the night.

"Ubi caritas..." - Tonight's memorial Mass at ND (long)
Originally posted on NDNation by IrishGypsy87 on 9/12/2011 at 00:32.
Reproduced with permission.

Picture dusk at Notre Dame, a late summer evening of lavender skies, soft breezes, and chirping cicadas. Picture, too, most of the ND student body gathered on the quad in front of the library, the Jesus mosaic gathering them in. Augmented by professors, university staff, local families, and the occasional random alum like me, the crowd stretched all the way back to the sidewalk across from the stadium. I'm no good at estimating crowd counts, but it's safe to say there were several thousand people assembled to pray, remember, and, yes, mourn.

As I looked at the students around me, I realized that the seniors were only 11 or 12 years old when the Towers fell, the freshmen barely in third grade. Their memories of that day must be so different from those of ours who were already adults in 2001. And yet they were solemn as they gathered for Mass the way Notre Dame students do, in groups from their dorms or with classmates and friends taking study breaks.

The Folk Choir sang beautifully as always, their song selections poignant and cathartic for those who took the words to heart: "Rejoice and be glad. Blessed are you. Holy are you." The Beatitudes strike especially deeply when you're praying for peace, compassion, forgiveness.

Father Jenkins presided, with scores of Holy Cross priests concelebrating. Monk Malloy gave the homily, remembering the campus-wide Mass which was held 10 years ago by the flag pole on South Quad, how a community in shock and grief found comfort in faith and togetherness. He also told about his subsequent visit to Ground Zero and his conversations with surviving first responders. He reminded us that our mission as part of the ND family is to grow in faith, in intellectual inquiry, and in service, and then to use these gifts for the betterment of the world. It wasn't a passionate homily, but he spoke truth humbly, and it was effective. The names of Notre Dame alumni who died on 9/11 were read as part of the Prayers of the Faithful, as well as the names of other lost loved ones , not alumni, but part of the extended ND family.

The part which will remain with me always is what happened toward the end of and after Mass. Night was falling by this point, but we had been given candles as we entered the quad. After Communion, we lit each other's candles and sang "Notre Dame, Our Mother" (of course) as the closing song.

Picture thousands of us, left arms draped around our neighbors, right hands holding those flickering candles aloft toward Touchdown Jesus.

Then picture this: As the choir in front of the library sang, first "Ubi caritas est vera," then Julian of Norwich's "All will be well" in a sort of canon, the entire crowd processed slowly and silently from the library to the grotto. There were so many people, it took over an hour to make the walk. But most of the crowd did the procession.

If the ghost of the Gipper really does hover above and around Washington Hall, from 8:30 to 9:30 tonight he would have seen a steady parade, 5 to 7 people wide, of candle bearers making their way from the library to the grotto. By the time we crossed North Quad in front of the War Memorial Fountain/Stonehenge, the choir had faded away, so all we could hear was the splash of the water and the song of the cicadas. That, and the tolling of the big bell in Sacred Heart, which got louder and deeper as we approached God Quad.

Did I mention there was a huge full moon tonight? You might as well picture that, too, hanging low and luminescent as we passed Washington Hall, crossed in front of the Dome, and curved around the Basilica, which was lit from within so that the stained glass windows glowed down on the procession.

The grotto, of course, could probably be seen from high above as those thousands of slender candles converged and were then extinguished when their individual bearers made their way forward to pray.

I found myself overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, and all I could pray was this: that these young people around me, so full of hope and faith and life, might actually be the peacemakers we pray for, so that their children won't have to know the horrors of war and terror.

Ours is a fallen world, yes. But there is always room for hope. For, as the choir reminded us tonight, "Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi ist." God is here.

Keywords: 9/11, father jenkins, father malloy,

Posted On: 2011-09-14 03:15:00 by IrishTrpt07


      Were you there? Have more to add? Leave a comment and let us know!

Be the first to comment!

   Post New Comment

Name: *

Comment: *

Reload Image

Enter Captcha (case sensitive):