Even as we were not far from the Twin Towers and the smoke — the smell of barbecue, to be completely honest – would soon reach our offices at National Review in New York, the devastation of 9/11 began to penetrate with some overwhelming sadness when we learned that our friend Barbara Olson had died. At her funeral Mass, Fr. Franklyn McAfee preached:
During the devastation of World War II, Pope Pius XII said, “The future belongs to those who love, not to those who hate.” Barbara Olson, full of life, cheerful, laughing, smiling, loving, was the opposite of the dark powers that brought her death. But their evil deed was in vain. We are people of life. And no terrorist, no matter how powerful, can take that away.
As Pope John Paul II has said, “When God gives life, he gives it forever.” We believe in the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. We Catholics also believe that the soul is immortal; it cannot be destroyed. We believe that Barbara Olson is alive, not just in our hearts and in our memories, but actually alive, fully conscious and aware. Now. We know this because Christ is risen from the dead. And if it isn’t true, if Barbara is really gone and gone forever, if you will never see her smile again, or hear her laughter, then this is all playacting. And I had better go and get another job. Because there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem, our hearts, though mourning, are full today.
We will see Barbara again. Death cannot win against life. Christians are those who, in the midst of December, believe in Spring.
This is the first Sept. 11 since Kate O’Beirne died and I pray that she and Barbara have met again. Perhaps they are working for us even more joyfully and with ever more power than they did here on earth.