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The Silver Lining of September 11

By Keith A. Fournier

In the wake of our national tragedy we have rediscovered our national soul.


Every cloud has a silver lining.
English Proverb


We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him
St. Paul to the Romans


Our flag is at full staff again. America arises strong again like the eagle that stands as her symbol. There is a triumph in our national tragedy.

We have found our real "Ground Zero" where the very foundation of our freedom is revealed. Our courage, resilience and compassion have flourished in this time of mourning and loss. Though two towers have collapsed and we have lost so many whom we deeply mourn, we have found something priceless in our grief, our national soul.

What the terrorists sought to destroy has instead been strengthened and held out as a source of inspiration to the rest of the world.

We must never forget the extraordinary heroism of very ordinary people transformed by these times. We can never be the same now that we have been touched by the sacrificial response of the firefighters and police officers who, no matter what their formal creed, grasped instinctively the essence of love revealed in the Gospel text: "Greater love has no-one than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

We will never be the same, not in spite of but because of, what this extraordinary tragedy revealed about our identity as a free people placed at this moment in history.

We have recovered our understanding of the "Common Good." We have renewed our commitment in solidarity with those who suffer and mourn. We recognized our obligation to those in need, and we have responded with a genuine flood of charity. We have rediscovered our connection to one another and with all those in the world who cherish freedom.

The phrase "the common good" is drawn from the Christian tradition and classical western political philosophy. In the aftermath of our national tragedy it has been dusted off and enfleshed. It provides the foundation for the renewal of a national and international ethic.

It must never recede from our national or international dialogue again.

We saw its potential to call forth greatness in the steely yet sorrowful eyes of a new President. Though young and untested, he rose to the occasion, inspiring a richly diverse nation with leadership like we have not seen in decades. His oratory, his actions and his soothing reassuring carriage of the weight of his office have fanned our national unity and resolve.

We experienced the depths of its wisdom in the image of the body of a slain priest, who died administering the last sacrament, being carried by his firefighting comrades to the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral where he was offered back to the one God who all of us acknowledged in our time of great national need.

We witnessed its consoling and sustaining strength in the unparalleled outpouring of authentic faith, richly diverse, pluralistic, respectful of all, yet clearly informed by the influence of our Jewish and Christian roots.

We must never forget the heartfelt prayers of our leaders in a prayer meeting in the Capitol Rotunda, the service at the National Cathedral, the memorial Mass at St Patrick's or the thousands of prayer services repeated throughout our land. They revealed a foundation of faith that has informed our national understanding of freedom and must do so once again.

Will we ever be the same again? I do not think so. We must be better.

We have experienced solidarity in our suffering that has a redemptive and transformative potential for our future as a nation. The patriotism that poured forth from our hearts was not contrived or wrongly nationalistic but rather the stuff out of which nations are born and reborn.

We witnessed before our own eyes the truth concerning the dignity and value of every human life as we felt the pain of all those who lost wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters and brothers. We saw that family ties join us all and that the strength of our families is the strength of our nation.

We rediscovered that freedom is not free: it is purchased in the blood of heroes, and it carries with it a deep obligation to the truth and to one another.

May history record that September 11, 2001 was the day that witnessed terror turn to triumph as a renewed people rose from their mourning to rebuild both the fallen city of New York and their nation.

Our flag is at full staff again. It is time to rebuild. Time to reach out to one another and to a world waiting for our witness and our leadership through our service. Time to reach out with open arms, not pointing fingers.

It is America's time to reach out and proclaim to the entire world that there can always be a triumph in tragedy, a silver lining in every cloud when we trust the One who truly worked all things to good.

All He asks is that we learn again to love one another and to serve the common good together.


Your Catholic Voice Foundation VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - President, 757 546-9580



September 11

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