by Vince Cascone
The 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks brought back terrible memories for those alive during that time.
I was principal of a Catholic school in Chicago. We had just finished a faculty meeting and school was about to begin. When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, it seemed like an accident. The second plane made it clear we were under attack.
I remember one younger student who, after hearing about the planes crashing into buildings in New York, asked, “Is the Sears Tower in New York?” His dad worked in the Sears Tower and he was worried that the planes crashed into his dad’s building. That was one of many stories that broke my heart that day.
I recently listened to a podcast by Bishop [Robert] Barron that focused on the topic of fear. He spoke about our finite nature, or finitude, and how our awareness of this nature brings anxiety and fear. This fear exists even under the best of circumstances in the finite world around us.
Of course, the pandemic and the number of lives lost because of it have brought us to extreme levels of fear. This fear is certainly understandable given the circumstances. However, it is not unavoidable. In fact, there is an antidote, a vaccine, if you will, to this fear.
In 2020, the most searched Bible verse on the internet was Is 41:10, which says: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” This is not just a simple slogan encouraging us to cast out any fears we have.
This verse, and so many more like it in the Bible, show us the only solution to fear is to order our lives to that which transcends our fears.
Psalm 62:2 tells us: “Only in God will my soul find rest.” If our fear exists because of our awareness of our finitude, the knowledge that we cannot stop the ticking clock of our lives, it stands to reason that fear is overcome by that which is infinite.
As 1 Cor 13:13 puts it: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
The major debate in schools over the last two months has been over mask usage. Perhaps we have taken our eyes off the ball somewhat. The fear that has permeated our society has caused divisions among people.
The devil is the king of chaos and division. Perhaps we have forgotten that there is something bigger than the pandemic, more important than masks, more powerful than our finite lives.
All of us, and perhaps most importantly our children, need to know that only in God will their souls find rest. Throughout history, extreme circumstances have brought some of the strongest examples of faith.
I ask you to pray for the students in our Catholic schools, that they may overcome the fear that surrounds them by the peace that comes from the One who lives forever and promises us that same eternal life.