I was prepared to title a blog “Remembering Ten Years”, or something along that nature. That was before hearing a song I’ve not heard since I sang in the Baptist Church choir. The entire verses of “It Is Well” were sung as the meditation after communion at Mass this morning.
A lot has happened in the ten years since 9/11 and I do remember vividly my life at that moment. I had just returned to college the week prior to September 11, 2001. I had just completed the first of a two year catechetical program in Pastoral Ministry Formation. I was employed (and currently employed) for a major airline. I choose to hold privately in my thoughts the events I recall of that day and those subsequent trying days, weeks, and months in the airline industry.
I did a search on Horatio G. Spafford, the author of the hymn “It is Well.” The hymn was first sung in public on November 24, 1876. Horatio and his wife Anna had many tragedies in their lives. They had four daughters and one son. They lost their son to scarlet fever in 1870. Shortly thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire broke out and many, including the Spaffords, lost everything. Horatio and Anna dedicated much time to serving the poor and those in need. In 1873, they planned a trip to join with evangelical missionaries in Europe. Horatio sent his wife Anna and their four daughters ahead on the ship “Ville de Havre” with plans to join them later. The ship was impacted by another ship mid-voyage and sank. Of their family, only Anna was saved, their infant daughter pulled from her arms by the waves. Her telegraph to Horatio was “Saved alone, what shall I do?” The words to “It is Well” were penned around this tragedy. The full text of the story is here Horatio G. Spafford: The Story Behind the Hymn “It is Well with My Soul” “Saved Alone. What Shall I Do…”
My favorite verse is the last verse, “and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…”
In the Gospel of John Chapter 20, the Apostle Thomas doubts Jesus and must touch the wounds before believing in His resurrection. In verse 29, Jesus responds to them, “Have you come to believe me because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is this promise from Jesus that turns sadness and tragedy into joyful hope. Blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and I believe what He taught.
Some years ago, in 1993, I penned this simple verse as a reflection on the wheat and tares (weeds) from the Gospel of Matthew 13:36-43. It’s now some eighteen years later. I can now say “Your body is food by which I am sustained,” for I am now enjoying the fullness of Christian faith in the Catholic church.
Lord, make wheat of me,
For tares are displeasing to Thee.
Let me be a seed with precious intent,
Knowing all things I should repent.
Daily watered by spiritual rain,
Word body is food by which I am sustained;
When I first saw the light of Your only Son,
I knew my life had begun.
Swaying to and fro in the wind,
I quiver, twist, and bend.
In faith knowing I’ll never break,
You’ve promised no more than we can take;
While tares will feel the flame and fire,
Your harvest of wheat will be singing in heaven’s choir;
Oh Lord, I pray, make wheat of me,
For tares are condemned to die in fire by Thee!