Sunday, April 01, 2012

Swords and Shields at St. Patrick's Cathedral

On September 12, 2001, one building in the Financial District was open for business: the commodities exchange, where markets for crude oil and its products, natural gas, and precious metals were made. To say the building was heavily guarded would be an understatement.

Even three years later, when I came to work there, the entrance was still manned by soldiers in black kevlar suits with black machine guns, accompanied by German Shepherd dogs. And so it was even after I left and went to work on Wall Street proper, where I passed by identical soldiers and dogs for years on my way to work. Markets for the world's goods had to be protected by force for the good of the world, or so goes one sound argument.

Notwithstanding the good sense of such a presence, it was a dramatic show of force. One felt a bit like a prisoner even as he walked about free. At least, that's how the daily drama struck me. Perhaps it struck others in other ways. It certainly struck us all in some way or another.

Today I was struck again, as I passed by St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue, and saw the kevlar-and-machine-gun-guys again -- standing ominously, powerfully, menacingly, threateningly -- outside Cardinal Dolan's parish. On reflection the effect was all the more striking in light of the Mass readings for today, which happens to be Palm Sunday: "So Jesus said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"

But around St. Patrick's, they like to have the show of power. You'd think the pastor there was a prince of this world, instead of a prince of the Church.


Post a Comment

<< Home