9/11 September 11, 2019

Events like those that occurred on September 11, 2001 challenge us.

For those who mourn the loss of loved ones, the impact is beyond our imagining.  If those people are in our immediate circle of friends, there is little more that we can offer beyond our presence and the hope that we share in the power of the Resurrection.  There is no way that we can say with a shred integrity, “I know what you are going through.”  There is no explaining away the loss.  For those of us who live at a greater distance from those who grieve the loss of loved ones, we can only offer a larger commitment to solidarity with them as they relearn the world without those they loved.

But there is a larger, national and cultural challenge that remains.  Where do we go with our grief and anger?  What do we do with the way in which such experiences bring us face to face with the evil and violence that we habitually ignore?  There is no simple, therapeutic fix.  Indeed, the enormity of a loss of this kind demonstrates the limitations of the psychological strategies that we have crafted.  Only in sitting with this challenge in God’s presence can we begin to find answers, and, as those answers surface, we can reasonably hope to find courage, resilience, resolve, and wisdom.

There have been many prayers offered that might serve that purpose, and the prayers that each of us offer in private are surely some of the most important.  But in my experience one of the most helpful was the prayer that Benedict XVI offered at Ground Zero some years ago:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here, the heroic first-responders, our fire fighters,

police officers, emergency service workers,
and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those who,
because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.

Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon
and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.

Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.



Browse Our Archives