A flume of smoke was visible thirty-five miles east of lower Manhattan. My wife Sharon and I were driving back from a 5:15 p.m. Mass at Saint Matthew's Church in Dix Hills, Long Island, when we saw the flume of smoke clearly visible from the direction of where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood until early on the morning on September 11, 2001. It is one thing to hear reports of the act of warfare launched against this nation by disciples of Osama bin Laden (does anyone believe bin Laden is not responsible?). It is quite another to see the remnants of the carnage rising from the ground as far as over thirty-five miles away from the scene.
The mind cannot even begin to fathom the thousands upon thousands of lives affected by the cowardly acts perpetrated by the suicide attackers. If an anecdotal sampling of a few Catholic parishes on Long Island is accurate, it does appear as though a number of ordinary people are directly affected by the loss of loved ones in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Scores of people are on their knees in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and on lines to go to Confession. Special Masses are being celebrated this very evening for the repose of the souls of those killed and for the recovery of survivors. After giving a few remarks on the matter to students at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University this morning, I went back to get my wife to go to Confession ourselves. For there is nothing to fear from any act of war or terrorism as long as we are in a state of sanctifying grace.
A believing Catholic knows how to respond to acts of warfare and terrorism. Indeed, it is only a believing Catholic who has the ability to see the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith, thereby permitting him to step back from the specifics of a horrific tragedy in order to understand the remote and proximate causes of the terror and destruction which have visited the United States of America with such fury. A review of these causes is important to help us realize that there is nothing we can endure in this passing vale of tears, including such wanton acts of destruction, which is the equal of what our sins did to our Lord and Savior in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross, and that it is precisely the promotion of sin under cover of law in this country and in the world which is what makes people believe that they can avenge injustices, whether real or imagined, by killing and maiming those they blame for their problems.
The Remote Causes
1. Original Sin. All of the problems of the world are caused by Original Sin. Human nature was irreparably wounded by Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden. Although human beings are not evil, they are inclined to do that which is evil. The Second Person - Jesus Christ - of the Blessed Trinity became Man in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb to pay back in His own Sacred Humanity the blood debt of Adam's sin. Our Lord's redemptive act on the wood of the Holy Cross makes it possible for sinful men to overcome the vestigial after-effects of Original Sin (the darkened intellect and the weakened will) to scale the heights of sanctity by cooperating with the graces He won for us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood and administered to us by the working of the Holy Ghost in the sacraments Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church He created upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. There is no programmatic or ideological solution to the problems which face us. Individuals must endeavor on a daily basis to live in such a way so as to be prepared to die a holy death, seeking to please God with every beat of their hearts by adhering to the revelation He deposited in His true Church.
2. The ramifications of sin. If human beings do not see themselves and the world through the eyes of the true Faith, then hardness of heart inevitably results. Those of us who have been the unmerited beneficiaries of Divine Mercy understand that we have the obligation to extend that mercy to all others, including those who have injured us or our loved ones. We have the obligation to pray for the conversion of our persecutors, praying especially that our Lady's Immaculate Heart will triumph and that everyone on the face of this earth will come to see in her Son's Sacred Heart the fountain of mercy from which we must drink. If people do not see themselves in this light, however, then they seek to exact revenge upon others. A person whose soul is captive to the devil by means of Original Sin is therefore especially prone to calculated violence (as is a person whose soul is dead by means of mortal sin). Although those who fomented the violence on September 11, 2001, may have believed they were involved in a holy cause, the plain truth of the matter is that they were seeking to avenge injustices by spilling the blood of the ones they blame for their problems.
3. A culture of death begets death. There are unspeakable truths which must be spoken. A nation which kills over 4,400 human beings under cover of law by means of surgical abortion, to say nothing of the thousands of others which are killed by means of chemical abortifacients, cannot escape having death visited upon it by others. If we devalue the sanctity of innocent human life in the womb, then why should it surprise us that others devalue the lives of ordinary Americans as they go about their business in their workplaces? We cannot continue to take innocent human life under cover of law and be immune from the attacks of others who view Americans in the same utilitarian manner that many Americans view innocent life in the womb.
4. The overthrow of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. The modern nation state was born in a specific rejection of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ and the authority of His true Church. The belief that it is possible to pursue justice in the framework of religious indifferentism and cultural relativism and legal positivism is delusional. A world which rejects the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ and the authority of His true Church descends into abject barbarism. Just as our Lord submitted Himself in humility to the authority of His own creatures in the Holy Family in Nazareth, so is it the case that all men and all nations are called to submit themselves in humility and in docility to the authority of the Catholic Church for the sanctification and salvation, as well for the right ordering of human societies by the subordination of human law and human culture to the immutable precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law.
5. Abandonment of devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady told us at Fatima that we had to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order to make reparation for our sins and those of the whole world. St. Maximilian Kolbe stressed the importance of Mary Immaculate as the key to restoring all things in Christ. It is necessary for souls to consecrate themselves to our Lady in order for them to understand that authentic peace, the peace of Christ, consists of being in a state of grace. Souls which are not in a state of grace are in a state of warfare against the Blessed Trinity, predisposing them to acts of violence and warfare against others. "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph." The fact that many priests and dioceses do not promote devotion to our Lady by means of her Most Holy Rosary and total consecration to her explains to a very large extent why many Catholics embrace the culture of death which has taken so many innocent lives in the womb and has now reached the lives of ordinary citizens.
Fallen human nature manifests itself in many ways. Although we may never know the exact number of the proximate causes which resulted in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, it is certainly possible at this early stage to list some of those causes.
1. Lax immigration laws. Patrick J. Buchanan has been warning us for over a decade about the laxity of our immigration laws. He has been denounced as a racist and xenophobe. However, Patrick Buchanan has been right all along. One of the terrorists convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center listed his occupation as "terrorist" when he presented his A-95 immigration card to officials at Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, when he entered this country. No one bothered to look at his card. There is a network of terrorists well in place in this country. We've done this to ourselves. Disciples of Osama bin Laden and other terrorist masterminds are everywhere in this country. Alas, a country pledged to pluralism and religious indifferentism lacks the political will to do such politically incorrect things as to say that certain people are in se undesirable and threats to the national security and that they should not be admitted to this country (or deported out of this country if they are already here).
2. Lax airport security. A lot of the personnel who man airport security counters in this nation are recent arrivals to this country. Could it be that the well-orchestrated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were made possible by confederates who were placed in security positions at Boston's Logan Airport and Newark International Airport? Could it be that these putative confederates were given the signal that September 11, 2001, would be the day of the long-awaited Jihad against the dreaded Satan, the United States of America? And if this scenario proves to be correct, we have to face the rather uncomfortable fact that the infrastructure of this nation has become dependent upon immigrant workers as a direct result of contraception and abortion. There are not enough native-born Americans to staff the American labor force, including security counters at our airports. True, human sloth could be at work here. Some security personnel might have been asleep at the switch. However, circumstantial evidence militates against that as the sole explanation. Either the suicide murderers devised clever ways to conceal their weapons or they had help on the ground.
3. American intelligence is in shambles. It is never possible to protect a free society completely against acts of warfare and terrorism. However, American intelligence should have done a better job of gathering the information about bin Laden's activities. The plan executed on September 11, 2001, had to be a year or more in the making. The timing was coordinated and exquisitely accurate. Answers will have to be sought as to how an attack which involved such planning and coordination occurred under the radar screen of American intelligence.
4. The iron will of those who reject the Mercy of Jesus Christ. This country's unqualified support for the policies of the State of Israel has no doubt hardened the resolve of anti-American zealots, people who are willing to give up their lives in the quest to punish the United States for what are believed to be crimes against the Palestinian people. While it is doubtlessly the case, as many others have documented over the years, that this country has turned a blind eye to the suffering of those whose lands were taken from them in 1948 and forced into refugee camps as though they were so much cattle, one does not advance the cause of justice in the Middle East by targeting innocent Israeli citizens for random acts of violence or by rejoicing in the deaths of innocent Americans in New York and in the Pentagon across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. However, the iron will of those who reject the Mercy of Jesus Christ is one of the proximate causes that should give us pause for reflection: such people are in a state of war against us and they are not going to give up any time soon.
Bringing Good out of Evil
God does not cause evil. As noted earlier, human beings introduced evil into the world as a result of Original Sin. God permits evil in order to bring good out of it. We may never be able to see the totality of the good God brings out of specific acts of evil until the Last Day, when the intentions of all hearts will be laid bare for all to see. However, it is possible to outline a few ways by which good can be brought out of the evil which took place on September 11, 2001.
1. An increase in Faith among Catholics. As noted at the beginning of this reflection, thousands of ordinary Catholics flocked to churches throughout the metropolitan area in the immediate aftermath of the downing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The baptismal embers of many souls have been stirred as a result of this unprecedented tragedy. This could very well result in a reawakening of the faith lives of Catholics who have been steeped in our culture of relativism and secularism and positivism. Moreover, this tragedy may help many Catholics to actually meditate on the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell) before they go to bed every night. We do not know when the Master will call for us. He comes like a thief in the night. Perhaps there will be more and more Catholics who will come to understand that the most horrible thing that can happen in the world is to be unprepared for the moment of their Particular Judgments by being in a state of mortal sin at the hour of their individual deaths. It could lead Catholics to come to understand that the graces won for us by the shedding of our Lord's Most Precious Blood on Calvary are sufficient for us to handle every cross we are asked to bear, including acts of warfare and terrorism. And it could lead us to understand that we have the obligation to pray for those who have fomented such acts of violence, as our Lord enjoined us to do in the Sermon on the Mount.
2. Conversion of souls to the true Church. Many priests risked their very lives to try to anoint the bodies of those wounded in Manhattan. At least one priest, a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, died as a result of his valiant efforts to minister to the souls of those entrusted to his pastoral care. The valor and pastoral zeal of these priests will no doubt inspire at least a few souls to convert to the true Faith. Indeed, even non-Catholics are drawn to pray in Catholic churches during times of emergency. Although they may not understand that they are being drawn there by our Lord's Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, they are responding an actual grace given them by the Holy Ghost. Perhaps this tragedy will help non-Catholic Christians and unbelievers see that it is only the Catholic Church which offers fallen creatures the means to scale the heights of sanctity and to be prepared for a good, holy death.
3. A re-examination of our uncritical acceptance of our culture of death. It is about time for some Catholic prelate to call a spade a spade: the killing of innocent human babies in their mothers' wombs under cover of law makes us more vulnerable to attacks such as the ones which occurred on September 11, 2001. People have got to be confronted with the reality of what is happening in our midst every single day by the cold-blooded killing of the innocent unborn. Someone has got to raise these issues in order to help to prompt a reexamination of this country's uncritical acceptance of our culture of death. There is a connection between the taking of innocent life in the womb and the acts of warfare and terrorism which took place in our skies and in our cities on September 11, 2001.
4. Acts of charity and heroism. Ordinary citizens lined up to donate blood at hospitals and blood centers throughout the New York City metropolitan area in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Such acts of charity, as well as the heroism of the several hundred police officers and fire fighters who gave up their lives in an attempt to rescue their fellow human beings, can help people on the natural level to see the Divine impress in each other. It can help them to reject the secularism of the world in which we live. Only creatures who bear within them the spark of Divinity are capable of such acts of charity and heroism. And it is only when we live in the shadow of the Holy Cross that we can come to see that we are called to move beyond mere natural acts of charity and heroism in order to become motivated by the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity to live lives of heroic sanctity in the midst of this passing vale of tears.
Putting Things in Perspective
A Catholic does not live in fear. Our Lord told us to "be not afraid," a phrase which Pope John Paul II has repeated throughout his pontificate. Although we must avoid the sins of presumption and despair, we are called to live in the confident hope that we are loved by Love Himself, the Blessed Trinity. We are called to live quite consciously in an awareness of our eternal destiny to possess the Beatific Vision of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise. And we are called to be serious about the business of getting ourselves straight with God in the Sacrament of Penance if we have been negligent or slothful about our interior lives. We are called to realize that the only way we can deal with the terrorism visited upon us by wealthy madmen is to defeat the terrorism of satan against our souls by striving ever more readily to cooperate with the graces won for us by our Lord and Calvary and by entrusting ourselves ever more fully to the patronage of our dear Blessed Mother and her chaste spouse, Saint Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church.
With prayers for the souls of those who have been killed, as well for the recovery of the survivors, and prayers for the survivors of those killed and wounded, may this moment of national horror help us to become resolved to subordinate our own individual lives and the greater life of our nation to the reign of Christ the King and Mary our Queen, the only sure antidote to the forces of darkness and terror that seek to envelop us ever more fully in a culture of both physical and eternal death.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine unto them. May their souls-and all the souls of the faithful departed-rest in peace. Amen.
Terror Occurs Every Day in the United States
The lives of many thousands of people were directly affected by the loss of loved ones on September 11, 2001. The United States of America launched a military attack in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, to attempt to destroy the terror cells of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization and to remove the Taliban from power in Kabul. As this is being written, the United States is preparing to conduct military action to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who has no proven relationship to the suicide bombers or Osama bin Laden, from power. A Department of Homeland Security will, in one form or another, become the fifteenth cabinet department of the Executive Branch of the Federal government.
Despite all of this, however, we are less secure than we were one year ago. Taking away nothing from the deaths of the people killed on September 11 or the grief of their families and friends, a nation that permits the daily slaughter of over 4,000 innocent human beings under cover of law every single day is itself a terrorist nation. A nation can never make itself secure from attacks imposed upon it by foreigners while it permits the carnage of the innocent unborn. While we continue to pray for the dead of September 11 and their loved ones, do we remember the simple fact that this nation has stood by as over 1,000,000 innocent babies, whose lives started at the moment of their fertilization, have been systematically butchered and discarded like so much refuse since September 11, 2001?
The terrorist attacks of one year ago were truly Satanic. So is each and every abortion. Our Lord, Who was conceived as a helpless embryo in His Blessed Mother's Virginal and Immaculate womb at the moment of the Incarnation, is in solidarity with every child in every mother's womb. The execution of an innocent child in the womb is the mystical execution of Jesus Christ. As horrible as the terrorist attacks one year ago were, they have been used by Satan to divert the attention of otherwise sensible people from the plight of the innocent unborn. Indeed, Catholic politicians who have trafficked in the blood of the innocent (Rudolph Giuliani, George Pataki, Tom Ridge) are now considered to be defenders of innocent life, veritable incarnations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of them, Giuliani, is said by Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, to be quietly planning a pursuit of the presidency in 2008. How many people who call themselves pro-life will look the other way if the Republican Party nominates an out-and-out pro-abort to oppose a Democrat who is as equally pro-abortion? September 11, 2001, is proving to be a vehicle by which people who believe in domestic terrorism can be viewed by the public-at-large as heroes for opposing international terrorism.
The United States, though, is not content to permit terrorism within its own borders. Our government funds international terrorism under the aegis of "family planning programs," which subject untold millions of fertilized babies to chemical abortions around the world (as well as in our own country). We fund the "voluntary" mutilation of women to render them incapable of having more children that is called "sterilization" (which is meant to be an antiseptic term). The horrible rot of sex-instruction, which undermines the innocence and the purity of the young, is funded both at home and abroad. The Bush Administration has been as friendly to much of the agenda of those who engage in lives of an open perversion of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments as the Clinton Administration was, all in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance," you understand.
As history teaches us, any supposedly "advanced" civilization that defies the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law makes itself far more vulnerable to attacks from those who have no more regard for the sanctity of innocent human lives than it does. Empires come and go, as I noted last year. The only way that a nation on a path of destruction from within and conquest from without can escape its downward spiral is to embrace Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph," Our Lady tells us.
No war has made the United States "safe." World War I paved the way for World War II. World War II raised up the Soviet Union from the ashes as an international power. The Korean War was a stalemate, the Vietnam War a defeat. While the members of our armed services have performed valorously in the service of their nation, we must remember that military force alone does nothing to provide security for any nation, especially one that is at war with God by means of the promotion of sin as the basis of law and popular culture. Although nations have the duty in the natural law to defend their borders, they will be unsuccessful in doing so over the long term if they defy Christ the King and Mary our Queen.
France, the eldest daughter of the Church, as Pope John Paul II called her in 1980, suffered mightily because King Louis XIV refused Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque's pleadings to have it consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This nation and the world are suffering because we have not headed Our Lady's Fatima requests. The only peace plan for the world that is guaranteed to work is Our Lady's Fatima Peace Plan.
The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will result in the Social Kingship of her Divine Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nations will once more, as Pope Pius XI noted in Quas Primas in 1925, put down the sword and live together in peace as subjects of one King and one Church, the one the King founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
Praying for the victims of September 11 and their families, it is important to pray every day for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, which will usher in a period of peace, a period in which the innocent unborn will be cherished, not destroyed, and a foundation of authentic peace founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate will prevail.
Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey