Today we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. As a blogger, I felt that I should write something, but what’s left to say? After all, this story has been reported on and written about by thousands of journalists and reporters. We’re going to hear a lot about the necessity of being vigilant and prepared so that this will never occur again, we’re going to see replays of scenes that will bring to mind the agony and fear we felt during that day, we’re going to be reminded of how many lives were lost. However, as Catholics, there is an important angle that should not get overlooked. On this day, ten years after the attack that shocked the world, the most important thing that we can do as Catholics is pray…
for the victims- None of these individuals expected to die that day. There’s a good chance that some of them died in the state of mortal sin. They went to work, expecting it to be another day at the office. Instead of meeting with clients or coworkers, however, they met the Lord. We should pray for everyone who died that day, especially those who were not in good moral standing. Why? To put it bluntly, without any intervention, some of them could have ended up in hell on that very day. However, with your prayers, there’s a chance that their hearts could have softened and they may have repented while there was still time. Like the good thief on the cross, that act of repentance may have spared them an eternity of torment. What good does it do to pray for them 10 years later, you may ask? God is not bound by space and time and knows every prayer that we will say, not only now, but in the future. If you say a prayer for the victims today, the Lord knew about that prayer even before any of these people died. It is entirely possible that he applied the fruits of your prayer to one of these victims, causing them to repent before they died. This repentance could have saved their soul and your prayer could have made it possible. Powerful, isn’t it? Your prayers will also help any of the souls who have been in purgatory since that date.
for the families of the victims- It’s impossible to fully comprehend the extent of the suffering caused by these attacks, but millions of people have been affected in one way or another. Obviously, the families of the victims have suffered the most and are still in great need of your prayers. Just as none of the victims expected to die that day, their family members didn’t expect it either. That is a heavy cross and your prayers can make their burden lighter.
for world peace - Unfortunately, there is much hatred in the world and this attack drove that point home. We should never forget to pray for world peace on a daily basis. Violence and hatred are contrary to the Good News of Jesus Christ and we must continue to pray for world peace, even if we don’t think it will ever occur. God can do the impossible and we should leave the details up to Him. Our job is to continue praying for an end to violence in the world.
for the terrorists- This is something you’re not going to hear on television, but as Catholics, it’s something we must do. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and that doesn’t exclude the individuals who planned and executed these attacks. Not only should we pray for the terrorists, but we should pray for an end to terrorism. I understand that this is not a popular or an easy position, but that’s the nature of Christianity. We are called to do what’s right, not what’s popular. Appropriately enough, the readings from today’s Mass mandated the importance of forgiveness:
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins? (Sirach 28:1-4)
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
As we commemorate this sad anniversary, it is important that we don’t forget the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. It is more important, however, that we never fail to live out the teachings of our Catholic Faith. Although it’s sometimes difficult for us to see, God can always bring good out of evil. Continue to pray for all those affected by the evil actions that occurred 10 years ago today and remember Our Lord’s powerful words as He was dying on the Cross:
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)