11 September 2009

Never Forget

Where were you?

That morning the friars were at breakfast in Jesuit Hall. One of the cafeteria ladies stopped by the table about 8.30 where several of us lingered and mentioned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. One of the brothers said it was probably a tourist plane--prop plane or maybe a helicopter. She said, "No, a big plane. A regular jet plane." I went upstairs to the TV room and was stunned to see the WTC on fire. Before long, several more friars. joined me. As we watched, the second plane hit. And not long after that it was reported that another plane was headed to the Pentagon. We all just sat there in total disbelief. When the Pentagon was hit, we started speculating on what was next. The White House? Congress? I remember feeling that the whole world had just shifted under our feet.

People from the university (SLU) and the area started gathering across the street at St Francis Xavier Church. At noon, a memorial Mass was celebrated for those killed in the attacks.

It was more than a little difficult for me to set aside my anger and pray for the men who did this. Time has not made that task any easier.

The student brothers preached at vespers on Saturdays and Sundays. It was my turn on Sunday the 16th. The readings were uninspiring for me at the time, so I did something I have never done again: I preached on readings of my own choosing, reading aloud from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah:

Near is the great day of the LORD, near and very swiftly coming, Hark, the day of the LORD! bitter, then, the warrior's cry.

A day of wrath is that day a day of anguish and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick black clouds, a day of trumpet blasts and battle alarm against fortified cities, against battlements on high.

I will hem men in till they walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their brains like dung.

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to save them on the day of the LORD'S wrath, when in the fire of his jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. For he shall make an end, yes, a sudden end, of all who live on the earth [. . .]

I have destroyed nations, their battlements are laid waste; I have made their streets deserted, with no one passing through; their cities are devastated, with no man dwelling in them.

I said, "Surely now you will fear me, you will accept correction"; she should not fail to see all I have visited upon her. Yet all the more eagerly have they done all their corrupt deeds.

Therefore, wait for me, says the LORD, against the day when I arise as accuser; for it is my decision to gather together the nations, to assemble the kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my wrath, all my blazing anger; for in the fire of my jealousy shall all the earth be consumed.

Pray for the victims and their families. The heroes of the rescue teams. Those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the terrorists.


  1. I had delivered a load in a Chicago suburb, and was on my way back to Green Bay to pick up my next load before going home for my break. I had stopped for coffee at the State line, and watched it happen on tv. I remember calling the assistant Pastor of the church I was going to because I was so angry. How do you forgive this, was my question. How do you not want to pull apart those who planned this evil piece by piece? I dealt with it through prayer. The anger remains. God help me.

  2. On 9/11/01 my Dad was still working for the federal government, in the Treasury building on the Mall in Washington DC. He called to tell me he was home safe - and I was confused as I'd just woken up (PST) and hadn't heard the news. I turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit the tower. Started bawling like a baby, knowing I'd just seen people killed.

    I went to Adoration this morning and prayed for the victims and their families, for the rescuers and for our military. Didn't once occur to me to pray for the terrorists. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I was at the MEPS (Military Enlistment Processing Station) in San Antonio. I had just signed my enlistment contract for four years in the US Army at about 7:30am(CST), fifteen minutes before the first plane hit. I was sitting in the office talking to the recruiter about my job in the Army and training at Ft. Benning for Airborne school. Another soldier came in and told us that we had to come our and watch the news. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. We went outside to the TV and watched the video. Suddenly the place started buzzing and all the military men and women were running and talking on their phones. The place went on lock down, no phone calls out, only official calls were allowed. We were taken to a hotel and were not allowed to call our families. I remember watching those planes hit and just crying because of the senseless loss of life. To this day the memory of that day brings tears to my eyes. I pray for the attackers and for those who died that day and for my friends that died in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can forgive, but I will never forget that day.