Photo: A woman grieves at the inscription of her late husband’s name at the edge of the North Pool near the national 9/11 Memorial in New York City Sept. 11  (CNS photo/Chang Lee, Reuters)


This morning, September 11, I woke with a keen awareness of what happened to us all 13 years ago. The attacks on our country ushered in a new era that, in many ways, affected the way we see ourselves and the way we see our role as a nation in the world. Our first thoughts go always to those who died in 9/11 and their families whose grief is as tangible in our parishes today as it was 13 years ago. We all offer prayers today, prayers that unite us with loved ones lost and unite us with one another in our common witness against violence and for peace based on freedom, justice and mutual respect.

Yesterday we arrived in Israel safely. The atmosphere on the flight was very warm and friendly. Several Rabbis and their wives were seated near me. Some joined a Minyan for prayers and as I was praying the Divine Office it struck me how close we were, praying the Psalms of David, each in his own tradition.

Jerusalem is always a special place. As the sun set yesterday there was a glow in the sky, a light that seemed to bounce off the stones of the buildings and cast over us all a pall of God’s presence in this holiest of places. Only three of the eighteen bishops arrived yesterday. The rest will be here this afternoon. Our first stop as pilgrims will be the Holy Sepulcher where the Franciscans will assist us as we offer Mass in which all of you will be very much on my mind and in my heart. Where better to begin a pilgrimage of prayer for peace than at the tomb of the Prince of Peace next to the place where he died for love of all humankind , the Savior of all the world!