It is no secret that the tragic events of September 11th still weigh quite heavily on the minds of Americans across the country. This morning’s 10am Mass in Jersey City was a very somber occasion as the church literally once stood in the shadow of the twin towers. During this morning’s Mass, the priest stressed the importance of forgiveness and how it is a critical component of healing thyself.
The congregation was packed with toddlers and babies and Maddie was on her best behavior. The toddlers were extremely restless and the babies kept crying in fits and starts. There was an underlying tension in the air for the majority of the Mass until something truly amazing transpired at Communion.
I had Maddie in the baby carrier as I waited my turn in line to receive the sacraments. Gina, Maddie and I were about six people back when I noticed that priest seemed a bit distracted.
It slowly dawned on me that he kept stealing glances and smiling warmly at Maddie. When it was my turn to take Communion, the priest silently nodded at us. I looked lovingly at Maddie and wondered exactly what was going on. That’s when I noticed that the solemn mood of the church was breaking up as more of the congregation began to take notice of Maddie.
Something wonderful, yet inexplicable was taking place as you could actually feel the warmth and fellowship permeating the congregation and bringing everyone inside a little closer together. That’s when things got even stranger.
When Communion was over, the priest requested that any parents with a newborn baby please come to the front for a special blessing. Gina and I stood there dumbly at the back of the church until we noticed that a large portion of the congregation was staring and waiting for us.
It was one the most remarkable things I have ever been part of, but somehow, Maddie was exuding a tiny ray of light to a community that was grappling with their memories of 9/11.
We worked our way to the front of the church before a sea of faces that had suddenly found their most heartfelt smiles. The priest looked warmly at Maddie and asked what her name was. “Madeleine,” I said. He blessed the little girl and our newly formed family as that warm glow continued to spread through out the church.
I will always be thankful to be part of whatever it is that happened at Mass this morning and will never forget how Maddie delivered a small message of love and hope with just her smile.