Twenty-one Years

Everyone remembers 9/11 differently. 93% of Americans over the age of 30 remember where they were and what they were doing when they received the news. For Americans 25 and under, the number drops of 42%. For Americans 20 years and younger, they were not yet born or not old enough to have a memory. Nonetheless 9/11 affected the nation. Want to know more? Read the Pew Research Center’s Two Decades Later, the Enduring Legacy of 9/11. Here and at your parish may we all actively remember and pray with and for 9/11 family members, survivors, and rescue and recovery workers for their service and healing.

A Fallen Brother

We Franciscans especially remember and pray for Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M., a member of Holy Name Province who was registered as the first victim number of the 9/11 attacks. A long-time fire chaplain, Father Mychal was in the lobby of towers praying for the people in the towers, the fire crew, and emergency responders. He witnessed people jumping from the building – and prayed for them too. When the first tower collapsed, the force of the collapse enveloped him in its devastation. He died doing what he loved. The NY Post photo of him being carried from the rubble has become a haunting icon of that day.

Where were you…?

On the morning of 9-11 I was in Cochabamba, Bolivia in the first few days of an immersion Spanish language course. On that morning, the Guardian of the friary came to my room, clearly animated about something, speaking rapidly in Castilian Spanish, pulling me by the arm to a room where there was a television. On screen were the scenes of the morning. We were watching CNN Español. The Guardian spoke no English. I did not speak Spanish. All I could do was watch in horror, guess at the meaning, and wonder what was I seeing? Only much later in the day did a bilingual brother arrive who could fill in the missing pieces of my understanding.  Later that week, watching CNN Español, I realized they were live streaming a funeral. Slowly I realized it was from St. Francis of Assisi, 31st Street NYC, our provincial “mother church.” Even more slowly did I realize it was a funeral for one of my brother friars, Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M. Home seemed even farther away that day.

A Prayer

On the anniversary of September 11, 2001, we call on God’s spirit within us to help deepen our response to our commitment to non-violence. We are so aware of the fear and violence that continues to permeate our world since 9/11. As we pray in remembrance of that tragic day, help us also to be people of hope who embrace a belief that a new vision is possible.

God of the years, we call to you this day when the memories of 9/11 weigh so heavily upon our hearts. We recall with horror and renewed shock that day when airplanes flew into buildings and people perished. We remember our fear and anger, our confusion and sense of threat. We remember all that was lost to us that day: our sense of security, our peace, our innocence, our belief that we were safe beyond such random violence and death. Most of all we remember those who died in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, their lives of promise extinguished in hatred.

God of all creation, you have taught us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We live by hope in the future you hold for us and for Earth. Grant us, we pray, hope for the future generations that they may never know or inflict the horror and terror we recall this day. Strengthen our hope when it falters and teach us to strive in all we do to realize the hope that is in your word and witness.

Eternal God, in you our hope is boundless. You renew hope in us through the promise of a future in which no one shall be afraid or lift up a sword against a neighbor. We pray in hope for the peace of the world among peoples and nations, religions and cultures, until we become a beloved community reconciled to one another under your sovereignty.

Loving God, you inspire us with love for all creation. Give us today the strength and courage to transform the compassion of our hearts into acts of peace, mercy and justice. Forgive us for the arrogance that leads to moral blindness, for desires for vengeance and retaliation and for willingness to sacrifice others for our own security.

Empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace. Fashion in us a people who are more ready to grow in understanding than eager to judge those who are different from us. Form us, a people determined to heal wounds rather than inflict them. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus who came among us to show us the way.


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