(Note: This previously unpublished article was written on September 14, 2001, from the office of Fr. John A. Perricone at St. Agnes Rectory in Manhattan, some two miles away from Ground Zero. Much of the horror of that day has faded. Even more so, its urgent lessons. Much of America seems to have moved on to even greater follies.)
I sit here writing this piece coughing on the fumes of hell. Though I sit some one hundred blocks from ground zero of Manhattan Island, the winds shift and billows of that smoke of death stretch all the way to my room at St. Agnes rectory—and to every one of you, wherever you sit in this beloved nation of ours, now supine before an Islamic monster. For the evil that growls at us now sits on the doorstep of every person in America, and of the world. More importantly, it proves to over-intellectualized Americans that indeed evil exists. It kills. It corrupts. It demands a daily war against it, sometimes even requiring our blood.
This enormity presses upon us like a sumo wrestler sitting on a sparrow. No American can escape either its immediate horror or its irrepressible lessons. The numbing body count of over five thousand deaths has violently shaken Americans from their sybaritic slumber. America’s eye, ever roaming for still more titillating satisfactions, has been forced to blink, only to open and focus again upon eternal truths, as though for the first time. America, long trampling upon precious moral absolutes so that it could gorge itself on carnal delights, might be coming to an end. A near-Hiroshima at the tip of Manhattan Island might compel Americans to walk away from their orgiastic spasm and see things as they are. Even the fatuous intellectuals who supplied cover for the unbridled hedonist may be given pause. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, nothing focuses our attention more than the fact that any one of us may be next for the terrorist.