No Room for Christ at Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Thomas A. Droleskey
September 11, 2002, will be remembered for a long time as a day of outrage. Outrage, that is, on the part of Catholics who still cling to the old-fashioned notion that the entirety of human history revolves around the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the Church He created upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. For the Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan, did not let pass from his lips even once the Holy Name of the Divine Redeemer during his sermon in a "Memorial Mass" celebrated on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon the United States. His sermon could have been given by the head of a Masonic lodge. That is how religiously indifferentist it was. He said nothing of substance that related whatsoever to the Catholic Faith, apart from saying that those who gave up their lives were living out the spirit of the Gospel reading for the Mass, which included the passage from the Gospel of Saint John, "Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends."
The thrust of Cardinal Egan's sermon was that we should be grateful for the heroism and the courage of the men and women who gave their lives to try to save the lives of others after two planes were flown into each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center one year ago today. Their heroism and courage were inspirational, the Cardinal emphasized over and over again, telling the congregation assembled that it was almost as though the figures who triumphed over evil on September 11 a year ago were fictional. However, the heroes and the courage they exhibited in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" were both very real, and for that New Yorkers and Americans can take pride and can rejoice in the triumph of the human spirit.
Assembled in Saint Patrick's Cathedral was a veritable panoply of pro-abortion politicians, men who believe that innocent human life can be put to death under cover of law. Present were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the Democratic Party's New York gubernatorial nominee, Carl McCall, New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, who has viciously attacked Crisis Pregnancy Centers with an outrageous abuse of the powers of his office, and two former pro-abortion Mayors of the City of New York, David N. Dinkins and Edward I. Koch. The former pro-abortion Mayor of the City of New York, Rudolph William Giuliani, and the current pro-abortion Governor of the State of New York, George Pataki, both of whom are Catholics, were at "Ground Zero" with President George Walker Bush, who only believes in abortion in certain, selected cases. However, the reprobates who support baby-killing under cover of law were not only present at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, each man's presence was noted by Cardinal Egan before the end of Mass. He actually praised each pro-abortion politician, including Elliot Spitzer! And he expressed disappointment that pro-abortion Governor Pataki was delayed at Ground Zero and could not make it to Saint Patrick's. The final outrage occurred when His Eminence said how proud he was to be a transplanted New Yorker. His public expression of pride in his adopted city can be contrasted quite sharply with the discomfort he feels in expressing any degree of pride in being a Catholic.
As has been the case consistently with Cardinal Egan in the past year, he missed yet another teachable moment. His silence about the Holy Name and anything to do with the substance of the Catholic Faith is reprehensible. As a Successor of the Apostles, he has the obligation to use the moments given him by God to teach the Faith at all times, especially when a lot of people are searching for answers that can be found only in the true Church.
Thus, this is what I believe Cardinal Egan should have said from the same pulpit where Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had preached for years before Francis Cardinal Spellman exiled him to Saint Agnes in a fit of jealousy:
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
We gather this evening to commemorate a terrible event in the history of the United States of America. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in three different locations across this country, including right here in New York, by Mohammedan terrorists.
We gather here this evening to pray for the happy repose of the souls of those who were killed. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation or perpetuation of the one Sacrifice offered by the Son to the Father in Spirit and in Truth on the wood of the Holy Cross to pay back the blood debt owed because of Original Sin. The Mass extends the Sacrifice of Calvary in time, making present the fruits of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's Redemptive Act to the Church Militant here on earth and the Church Suffering in Purgatory. Thus, we pray tonight that the fruits of this Mass will assist the souls of those who were killed one year ago today.
Why do we have Masses offered for the dead? Why can't we assume that those killed so suddenly one year ago today are in Heaven? Well, the answer is very simple. Nothing impure can enter Heaven. Very few people who are in a state of sanctifying grace at the time of their deaths have paid back the entirety of the debt they owe God because of their forgiven mortal sins and their general attachment to sin. God has given us the grace of Purgatory so that those who died in a state of final justification can pay back after death that which they owed at the time of their deaths. We in the Church Militant on earth can assist the members of the Church Suffering in Purgatory by remembering them in our prayers and, most especially, by having Masses said for them. We are gathered here principally to offer the fruits of this Mass to those souls who died a year ago who are in need of this satisfaction.
Some of you might ask, "Your Eminence, what if my loved one is in Heaven? Why should I pray for him and have Masses said for him? After all, he died so tragically?" Well, we have to understand that a tragic death is not the same thing as a holy death. While one of the priests near the World Trade Center did give General Absolution to all of those who were in danger of death as the twin towers collapsed, we do not know very much about who died at any particular time. Thus, to be on the safe side, therefore, we continue to pray. Believe me, as Saint Padre Pio taught, no prayer is ever wasted. If one of our loved ones is in Heaven, our dear Blessed Mother will direct the fruit of those prayers to some other deserving soul. So, my friends, we continue to pray and to have Masses offered for the souls of all of our relatives and friends, including those who died one year ago today in the events of September 11.
We also pray, obviously, for the consolation of those who still grieve over the death of their loved ones. The fruits of the Mass are meant to fortify them, especially by means of the worthy reception of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, in Holy Communion. One of the things that has been lost in the past year is the fact that death is going to come to us all, including ourselves and our relatives, sometimes when we least expect it. "You do not know when the Master will come. The Master comes like a thief in the night." We must be prepared at all times to die, which is why we should be mindful about being in a state of sanctifying grace at all times. One of the best ways we can prepare to meet the Divine Redeemer in the face is to spend time with Him in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, to develop a deep and tender devotion to His Most Blessed Mother, especially through her Most Holy Rosary, and to frequent the Sacrament of Penance in order to root out sin from our lives and to so increase the beauty of our souls and the fervor with which we receive Holy Communion.
We are not people are maudlin sentimentality. We do not exalt the "human spirit," which is certainly capable of natural acts of goodness and heroism, as the ultimate end of human existence. We are people of the Catholic Faith, who must view all things, including terrible tragedies, through the eyes of the Faith. And our Faith teaches us that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has conquered the power of sin and death forever on the wood of the Holy Cross. It is up to us to cooperate with the graces we receive in the Sacraments to see the events of the world supernaturally through the eyes of the soul. For we know that a soul who has died in a state of sanctifying grace will one day see the glory of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in Heaven. As Saint Paul noted, "And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. . . . And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins." (1 Cor. 15:14, 17)
Our Lord's Easter victory over sin and death puts the events of each one of our lives and the world in their proper perspective. Meaning not to disparage for one moment the depth of the pain and the suffering that has visited so many people in the past year, we have to remember that there is nothing any of us can suffer, including the sudden and unexpected and unjust loss of a loved one, that is the equal of what one of our venial sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross. Our pain and our suffering are meant to unite us to the pain and suffering experienced by the God-Man as He hung atop the heights of Golgotha to make it possible for us to realize an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise. Suffering is redemptive if we offer it up in union with the Cross of Christ. And those who are totally consecrated to the Mother of God entrust all of the merit they earn by the patient embrace of their own daily crosses to her Immaculate Heart, knowing that she will not deny them anything at the moment of their own deaths if they remain faithful to the end.
It is also from the Cross of Jesus Christ that we learn of the divine mandate to forgive those who harm us and our loved ones. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) The Pater noster teaches us: "Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostras." (And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.) That is, if we want to be forgiven by Our Lord then we must offer that forgiveness to others, including those who perpetrated the horrible attacks on this country a year ago today. This does not mean that it is wrong to seek to bring to justice anyone who aided the now dead terrorists. Not at all. However, it does mean that we must recognize that the beneficiaries of Divine Mercy must also be the administrators of such mercy in their own lives. This is hard. It is not possible to do on the natural level. It goes against every fiber of fallen human nature. We can only offer such forgiveness when we cooperate with supernatural grace to understand our total reliance upon Christ's Mercy. As the late Father John Hardon once noted, "God permits us to sin so that we can forgive each other." Indeed.
The events of September 11, 2001, call to mind the sanctity and inviolability of each innocent human life. Please understand what it is I must say at this point. Unless I do say it, however, I will be remiss in my obligation as a Successor of the Apostles to preach the fullness of the splendor of Truth Incarnate in charity.
Every human life is made in the image and likeness of the Blessed Trinity. Our Lord could have become man any way He chose. He is the Logos, the Word, through Whom all things were made. There is nothing lacking in His omnipotence as God. He chose to enter human history so as to redeem us on the wood of the Holy Cross by being conceived as a helpless embryo in His Blessed Mother's virginal and immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost at the moment of the Incarnation.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Lord of history. He knew that there would come a time in the history of the created world that innocent human life in the womb would be subject to barbarous extermination under cover of law, yes, even in these United States. One of the reasons Our Lord condescended to become the prisoner of the tabernacle of Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb was to place Himself in solidarity with every child in every mother's womb without exception. Although He cannot suffer again in His Glorified Body, He did teach us that "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." (Mt. 25:40) The least of His brethren are in the womb today, totally defenseless, totally dependent upon their mothers and those around them to protect their absolute inviolability. Thus, to kill a child in the womb is to execute mystically Jesus Christ. I repeat: every abortion is a mystical destruction of Jesus Christ in the person of unborn babies. We cannot say we love Our Lord and support His destruction mystically in the wombs of mothers under cover of law.
Over one million babies have been put to death under cover of law since September 11, 2001. Again, meaning to disparage not one whit from the suffering of those gathered here this evening, we must also grieve for the deaths of these innocent children-and for the over 40 million children who have been put to death in this country under cover of law since the killing of children became "legal" in California in 1967, in our own State of New York in 1970, and on demand nationally as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. A nation that puts to death the innocent unborn under cover of law makes itself more vulnerable to attacks from those outside of our borders, people who have no more respect for the inviolability of our lives than we do for the most defenseless within our own midst. No amount of show of military force will render such a nation secure as long as it permits the shedding of innocent blood under cover of law.
Thus, in the presence of so many public officials, most of whom support this slaughter of the unborn by the use of various linguistic devices designed to anesthetize the reality of child-killing, I must remind everyone here that human law must be conformed to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Contingent beings whose bodies are destined for the corruption of the grave until the Last Day do not determine right and wrong. We have the obligation to subordinate our lives, both individually and collectively in society, to God's Sovereignty over us and our societies. We make our nation more vulnerable to attacks from without as long as we refuse submission to that sovereignty, taking it upon ourselves to deny the sanctity and inviolability of innocent human life in the womb. If we want to make our country more secure, and therefore a more fitting instrument in the pursuit of justice both here and abroad, then we must stop all forms of abortion, chemical and surgical alike. To honor those killed on September 11 of last year, we must defend innocent life in the womb without exception.
A ceremony is taking place at Ground Zero to remember the dead. As soothing as that might be, the Mass is the only place where true and eternal consolation will be found for the dead and those who mourn them. And it is from the Mass that we will receive the graces to recognize that every abortuary is a "Ground Zero" of its own, requiring us to pray for the conversion of those who call down upon themselves the blood of the innocent and who thereby put the entire country in greater jeopardy from attacks from without.
May Our Lady, the Mirror of Justice, pray for us so that we will be fortified in this Mass to remember the dead always in our prayers, and to understand our obligation to prevent further blood from being shed in our own land. God is merciful. However, He is also just.
We cannot guarantee that a fidelity to God's laws will keep us secure from attacks leveled against us by terrorists bent on destruction. However, a Catholic does know with certainty that fidelity to God's laws is the surest way to save his soul, and thus to plant the seeds for a world where everyone lives in the shadow of the Holy Cross for the glory of Christ the King and Mary our Queen.
I know. I live in fantasy land. As my very perceptive wife, my dear, dear Sharon, noted: "I would only be outraged by this Mass if it had any relation to Catholicism." Indeed. Cardinal Egan's September 11, 2002, had no relation to Catholicism. It was an expression of the Americanist-Masonic spirit of the triumph of self-reliance, brotherhood, courage, and religious indifferentism.
Although Cardinal Egan's predecessor, the late John Cardinal O'Connor, said and did many puzzling things over the course of his tenure as Archbishop of New York, he did mention Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the presence of public officials. Cardinal Egan's refusal to do so on September 11, 2002, is a serious dereliction of duty, one that betrays the injunction given Pope Leo XIII to both bishops and the laity in Sapientiae Christianae in 1890:
The chief elements of this duty [as Catholic citizens] consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent. Now faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. "How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached.
Christ was not preached from the pulpit at Saint Patrick's Cathedral by Edward Cardinal Egan on September 11, 2002. There is evidently no room for Him at St. Patrick's when it is more important to exalt the spirit of individualism and of "America, the Beautiful."
May God have mercy on those who deny by acts of omission Christ and His doctrine before men.