This weekend many millions will attend church, pray with their families and light up the night. Friends will feast together. Many of these events will include the simple holding of hands to signify respect, gratitude and love. These small acts have huge significance They reinforce the civilizing power of commitment, sealed by ritual words and actions. They reassure participants that their bonds are not broken.
Last summer the crash of a small plane took the lives of five of the nine passengers, leaving four alone in the Alaska wilderness. Their story is told by Ashley Halsey and Lonnae O'Neal Parker in a recent edition of the Washington Post. Trapped in the wreckage, unable to move, the two men and two boys shared the prayers of the Rosary. I do not know the Rosary, but I can feel today as I write the power that shared prayer brought to their desperate situation.