I did, however, hear the words of our pastor's homily, which, as with most of our church's leadership this week, were less than inspiring or even truly in touch with the crux of this situation.
The call is for "forgiveness," and such a call is consistently opposed to the supposed thirst for revenge that's out there. As I've said before, of course there are the simplistically bloodthirsty, but for the most part, Americans' call for action is about prevention of such acts in the future and containment of the threat of radical Islam as much as possible.
There is a complexity to the current situation that dumbed-down, simplistic post-Vatican II theology as it comes to us at the parish or even the diocesan level just isn't able to meet. We must always be wary of that complexity, always wary of the Church being called to give its blessing to political causes or, just as importantly, situations that can quickly become mucky and murky with sin, even as they begin with all good intentions. War, let it be said, is an evil. We have been witnessing a resurgence of admiration for the "greatest generation" that fought in World War II, and that is all well and good, but I invite you to actually read - rather than watch on made-for-television dramas - about those brutal battles in which young men were shipped by the thousands to European and Pacific fronts, not so much as combatants but as bodies to be put up, be shot at, and replaced by more bodies. Read about the Battle of the Somme in World War I.
No, war is to be avoided if we can, and so we desperately pray for peace.
The complexity comes, though, in the terms of peace, and what the ultimate goal of the present situation is. What is it? If you even start thinking about it, your mind will get overwhelmed, and quickly: the demands of Islamic fundamentalism, the presence of the US in the Middle East (particularly Saudi Arabia, which is bin Laden's peeve), the support of the US for Israel, the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel....these are all strands of the present and coming conflict. And what those, even in our Church, just don't understand is that the "other side" is uninterested in "forgiveness" or conciliation. They want to destroy Western Civilization. They fantasize about the establishment of a global caliphate, and that means the oppression of other faiths - look at what is happening to Christians in places like the Sudan and Afghanistan if you want that picture painted for you. They want Israel destroyed, make no mistake about it. They don't want peace with Israel - they want Israel destroyed. To not exist.
Do you see how inadequate our popular theological language has become in relation to these issues? But perhaps that's what happens right before our perceptions are expanded and revolutionized.
It seems to me that at the moment, we should be praying for peace. But beyond that, we should be praying for protection, and for God's wisdom to guide those who are (finally) hunting down the network that would destroy us. I am sort of amazed at the distance we're still maintaining about this - read the bit in Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish entitled "Civil Defense" to see what I mean in terms of practical matters, but the same could apply to our spiritual take on this so far...at least for those of us out of New York, who are grieving and pained, but are still thinking that we're safe.