With a flag waving between two fire truck ladders outside the Cathedral of St. Paul last Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11, the civic ceremony began.
When service members were asked to rise, several in civilian dress stood as well as police officers and soldiers in uniform.
Vince Fahnlander stepped up to the podium and told the story of his one-time roommate, Tom Burnett Jr., whose plane was hijacked on September 11, 2001.
Burnett’s story — and the stories of everyone who died on United Flight 93 — have been re-told in books and movies, but Fahnlander was able to describe his friend’s spiritual history: how he fell away and subsequently returned to the Catholic Church, attending daily Mass and praying to know God’s “big plan” for his life.
The take-away was simple: We can all seek and do God’s will for our life, he said.
Members of the Catholic Church mingled with visitors like local St. Paul resident Edie Meissner, who came to “be quiet” and hear the Minnesota debut of a requiem tribute to the fallen victims of 9/11.
A Mass of Thanksgiving and Remembrance at the Cathedral followed the civic ceremony and honored all law enforcement and emergency personnel.
The “Trinity Requiem” was composed by Robert Moran and sung by the Cathedral Choir School of Minnesota and the Cathedral Schola Cantorum. Robert Ridgell, the Cathedral’s new director of sacred music who directed the Cathedral singers and originally commissioned the piece, is the former music director at Trinity Wall Street church. Trinity survived the 9/11 terror attacks intact despite its location 150 yards from where the World Trade Centers stood.
The solemnity of the occasion was supported by powerful Scripture readings during the Mass. The second reading, from Romans, said:
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”
In his homily, Father Peter Laird, archdiocesan vicar general and presider, called the message an “invitation to treasure and live the justification won for us by Christ.”
Jesus Christ’s suffering has established a new order that makes union with one another possible, Father Laird said.
We are blessed to be born into or come to this country, he said, built by people who had the “simple conviction” that all people are meant to live in harmony under the authority of God.