9 / 11 — From hatred to love

(c) bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved.  st. augustine beach, fl
(c) bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved. st. augustine beach, florida

Dear Friends,

Let’s think forward today realizing the command of Jesus to love.

To love our enemies is the essential dimension of being a follower of Jesus (Matthew Chapter 7)

Love of enemies is the essential meaning of the Cross.

If we do not love our enemies we neither understand who Jesus is,

why he lived,

why he died,

what his message is,

and we can have no part with him.

This morning, I just offer a beautiful hymn for your reflection that touched me in the Magnificat prayer book I use.

Love that bears another’s burden,

Love that shares another’s pain,

Love that heeds another’s struggle,

Love that seeks another’s gain:

Love like this reveals Christ Jesus

As the Law that will remain.

Love that hears another’s weeping,

Love that dries another’s tears,

Love that spares another sorrow,

Love that calms another’s fears:

Love like this reveals Christ Jesus

As God’s mercy down the years.

Love that offers first forgiveness,

Love that soon forgets a wrong,

Love that laughs in all rejoicing,

Love that sings in ev’ry song:

Love like this reveals Christ Jesus

As the heart where we belong.

(author not mentioned)

As we remember 9 / 11,

we also remember Jesus’ words:

“Unless a grain of wheat dies and falls into the ground

it cannot bear fruit

but if it dies it will yield a rich harvest (John 12:24).

Life always renews itself.  From death — through dying there is always a rising

and new life.

the great cross / mission of nombre de dios / st. augustine, fl
the great cross / mission of nombre de dios / st. augustine, fl

And I just simply add:

Forgive us, Lord!

Forgive us all!

No one is without sin,

without failures in love.

Let forgiveness move us forward to build a new humanity.

Now here is Celine Dion singing God Bless America.

Bob Traupman

Contemplative writer

A different take on 9/11


In the September 2001 issue of my Arise reflection / letter, that hit my readers’ mailboxes five days before 9/11.  It was simply titled “Uncertainty.   I wrote:

“. . You never know.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.  Or for that matter, what the next moment will bring.   The stability that you and I have acquired could be cut from under us at any moment.  We could suddenly be fired from our job.   We could have a heart attack as my priest/buddy Phil did at age 46 and, of a sudden, be gone.”

“Sudden events,” Arise continues, “such  as a car accident, a natural disaster, or the threat of terrorism can confront us with stress on every level.  Kids who grow up in the West Bank of Jerusalem never know when a kickball game will turn deadly.  How can people cope with that level of senseless uncertainty?  Can Palestinian or Israeli children have any kind of normalcy?  Will they be gun-shy all their lives?” These words came from last month’s Arise newsletter on “Uncertainty.”

I wrote the following one month later (October 2001), entitled “Vulnerable.”

I began, “How eerie they seem now in light of the terror that has gripped us all.”

It was quite controversial then.  It angered some of my readers.  And it may anger you now.  But here’s my perspective for what it’s worth.

I am speaking of BEING VULNERABLE.  Suddenly, our whole nation has become vulnerable with a gaping wound that will not be easy to heal, will not be easy to close.  We have become vulnerable to violence and terror.

But we can do something valuable and important.  We can grieve well for the tremendous loss that has happened to us.   We can grieve with dignity and honor.  This can be our finest hour.  As we grieve well, so God will speak to our heart.   We must be with and lift up those who have borne the weight of this tragedy, the suffering of the family members trying to find out some word about their loved ones.  The courageous suffering of rescue workers so dedicated to their task.  The suffering of all of us who have united our hearts in solidarity with those who experience terrible grief and loss.

To me, America’s vulnerability to violence is not surprising. We have known as a nation that we have harbored violence in our nation’s soul.  Many of us have a fascination with violence.  We play violent video games and watch violent movies.  We’re not satisfied unless these show utter destruction and devastation.

Being vulnerable, being wounded, can bring immense suffering.  Indeed, perhaps for the first time, we can feel the suffering of so many peoples throughout the world who face the threat of violence every day.  Perhaps in our own need for compassion in this event our compassion can be deepened for those who have no relief from violence and who despair of ever living a normal life.

I am afraid that we may not be protected again from violence without until we face the violence within.  Perhaps that is true for our nation as it was true for me.  Twenty years ago I was devastated in my soul; my life had collapsed in rubble.  I had to realize that the healing of my soul was of utmost importance if the whole of my life was to be healed.

So we can tend to our nation’s soul. Being vulnerable can be a good thing; it can lead us to the One who can fortify us, who can be our rock, our refuge, our stronghold.  We can reflect on our sinfulness as a nation.  As the world’s only Superpower we sometimes think we are invincible.  No wonder, then, that some would hate us because some of us sometimes use power to our own ends.

We must be willing to be humble.  To realize our vulnerability, our wounds, can unite us with the rest of suffering humanity. If we do that, that will be an immensely good thing.

Jesus “emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men.”  (Phil. 2:6-11)  Jesus showed us that humility was a good thing for the human race.

Humility, then, is the key to healing the wounds of September 11, 2001. Not humiliation. Humility.

Life has been scrambled for us in America.  We have entered the refiner’s fire.  We have the opportunity to be cleansed and purified and strengthened so that we can find our security in God.

This is a time to think, a time to reflect on where we are as a nation and where we want to go.

Consumerism consumes the soul of America. We worship the almighty dollar. The World Trade Center symbolizes all this.    We celebrate Christ’s birth each year by buying and spending more than last year. Our economic growth is based on the premise that we will consume more and more and our GNP will forever increase.   This is an illusion.

The rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.  The gap is widening — 20% of the world’s people consume 86% of the world’s goods.  (Center for Concern)

We must seek spiritual values first.  We have the opportunity today to see that God is inviting us to rely on God first, on Wall Street second.

We must not escalate the hate that has been spewed upon us. There is no doubt that there are some who hate America.  We do have enemies.  And we are angry.  And we must stop the violence. Stop it, not escalate it.

Again, I say, if we are to stop violence  without we have to face the violence within.  The official liturgical book, the Sacramentary, has us pray this prayer in the face of war:

Lord, remember Christ your Son who is peace itself

and who has washed away our hatred with his blood.

Because you love all people, look with mercy on us.

Banish the violence and evil within us

and by this offering restore tranquility and peace.

The liturgy is saying what I have been saying: if you want to banish violence without, ask God to banish violence within.

We have to be very careful that we do not escalate the hate.  (Again, remember I wrote this in October 2001.)

We must not pre-judge all Arabs or all Muslims because of the evil intent of some individuals and a few gurus of terror and inhumanity. We will follow the rule of law carefully  (Did we???) and we will find and punish the ones who did this,  the ones who supported this,  and the ones who have harbored such hate.  We are a law-abiding country.  And we must be careful to abide by the law in the search of those who have the blood of Americans upon their souls.

And so may I revert to some words from last month’s newsletter, which turned out to be prophetic:

“No human being can know for certain what the next moment will bring.   Uncertainty is just part of life.   No matter what the next moment will bring, we can be assured, if we have some faith and hope, that the presence of God in our life will give us the strength and the courage to hang on and hang in.  God will give us the grace and the resources to deal with any life situation, no matter how difficult.”

We can ease the burden  of those who suffer by the power of our prayer today.  Jesus knows the immensity of  suffering the world can feel. Through him, we can be hopeful.  There can be new life, a purer, more spiritual life for our nation; we can experience renewal and resurrection. But first we must tend to our wounds and confess our sins — each of us and all of us.

And now, ten years later, I ask:  Did we do that?

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A Prayer for Labor Day 2011


Dear Friends,

As we pause this weekend for the last holiday of the summer, may we reflect on the gift of work.

Good and gracious God,

you told us from the very beginning that we would earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.

We are interdependent in our  laboring, Lord.

1822847We depend on the migrant workers who pick our lettuce and our strawberries,

the nurses’ aids who empty bed pans,

the teachers who form our children’s minds.

We thank you, Lord, for the gifts and talents you have given us

that allow us to earn a living and contribute something positive to our world.

We pray, dear Lord, for those who are without work.

Sustain them — us — in your love.

Help us to realize that we have worth as human beings,

job or no job.

But that’s hard to get, Lord.u11850667

Our society preaches to us that our worth comes from success,

of being better than the Jones’.

But our worth comes because You made us.  We are Your childen, no matter what,

job or no job.

You love us and you call us to love and support each other.

We pray, Lord, for those who do the dirty work in our lives, Lord,

those who break their backs for us, those who are cheated out of even a minimum wage,

those who don’t access to health care,

those who cannot afford to send their kids to college.

Help us to bind together, Lord, as a community, as a nation

because we depend on one another — the garbage men,

the police, the stock people in our grocery stores,

the UPS driver, the pilots, the 7/11 clerk, the ticket-taker on the turnpike

the plumbers, the accountants, the bank tellers, the landscapers, the lifeguards,contractor-working_~pr81825

those who clean our houses, the cooks, the waiters, the steel workers, the carpenters,

the scientists, , our doctors and nurses and yes, the writers.

Help us to realize this weekend how dependent we are on one another, Lord.

We are ONE!  We are family.  We need each other.

Let us give thanks for each other this Labor Day weekend, Lord

Help us to celebrate and give thanks for each other and appreciate

the value, the dignity, the contribution

that each one makes to keep  our country, our cities, our lives going.

And in tough times, help us remember the words of Jesus:

Come to me all you who labor

and are heavily burdened

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you . . .

for my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28)

And, finally, this prayer of Cardinal Newman:

O Lord, support us all the day long

until the shadows  lengthen and the evening comes,

and the busy world is hushed,

and the fever of life is over,

and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in thy mercy,

grant us a safe lodging,

a holy rest, and peace at the last.


P. S. This weekend, think about all the people who’s work makes your life go better.

Tell them you appreciate them.

Two words have great power:  THANK YOU!

If only we would use them often,

we would ease each other’s burden and energize each other.

and we would make trying times just a little bit easier for us all.

We call that: Love!

And before you go, here’s a spirited version of the great Celtic hymn “Lord of all Hopefulness” about the blessing of our work.

  Enjoy.  Have a great day!)


Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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You’re currently reading “A Prayer for Labor Day 2010,” an entry on Father Bob’s Reflections

September 4, 2009 / 12:49 pm
Ordinary moments of Ordinary Time,Uncategorized
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