This morning Abbot Robert offered the Mass for Preservation of Peace and Justice. He recalled the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhatten and on the Pentagon, here in Virginia, eleven years ago. At that time we were actually preparing for the final days of our year long celebration of our founding in 1950. We were to end the year of our Golden Anniversary with a special Mass on 14 September, the Triumph of the Holy Cross, by hosting the former members of our community. As it turned out, with the disruption of air traffic on the 11th and 12th, travel was in chaos and just a handful of guests were able to drive here. As is our custom on 14 September, the relic of the true Cross was exposed all day on our patronal Feast for veneration. War had not yet been declared and many felt insecure about the future. Our Guest Chapel was thronged all day with friends and neighbors coming to pray.
Since then we’ve seen Saddam Hussein overthrown and Osama Bin Laden executed; we’ve lived through the unweildy political situation in Iraq, uprisings for self-government throughout the Moslem Near East; the eclipse of Christian communities in the Levant. There are the victims of war, political and religious persecution to consider and our own losses of young live as well as lives shattered by post-combat trauma. We have our own accounting to do for the atrocities at Guantanamo, the suspension of aliens’ civil liberties, deportations on bureaucratic rather than criminal grounds and the loss of civilian life through drone bombing.
Abbot Robert announced that the Mass this morning was being offered for that peace which the world cannot give. The words of the Collect are worth repeating here: O God of peace who are peace itself and whom a spirit of discord cannot grasp, nor a violent mind receive, grant that those who are one in heart may persevere in what is good and that those in conflict may forget evil and so be healed.