September 11, 2012

Today -11

September Midday Mass

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness
quietly. The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.

It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in
September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Tobias Haller BSG
March 8, 2008

Reposted now annually as a traditional observance


5 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I now know to look for the poem on this date. It's good to see it here.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi. We can never forget that day... at least I never can.

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

Some of us wish we could forget that day. Having been there it is burned into my neurons and will never leave.

I am almost always torn on this day, partly wishing we would stop wallowing in pathos and move on, and partly wishing I could see once again the two dear co-workers of mine who died in the rubble.

But most of all I mourn the loss of our courage. I mourn the the fact that our self-proclaimed born-again leaders counciled fear and revenge rather than trust in God and our Lord's command to do good to those who hurt us.

We are still paying the price of that fear and vengefulness and until we repent, until we change our minds, we will be trapped in an escalating atmosphere of violence and hatred that will not end until we are all, on both sides, destroyed.

WSJM said...

Thank you, Tobias, for reposting this. And thank you, Deacon Charlie, for your wise reflection.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Charlie and Bill, you are both most welcome...