I was a freshman at Archbishop Wood in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, and like so many I remember the day vividly. Not just particular flashes. Most of the day lingers in my mind. It was a startling thing, as provocation of that magnitude in the face of so many unknowns is bound to be.
Mary Rezac at Catholic News Agency commemorated this September 11th with a look at Pope John Paul the Great’s reaction and remarks in the wake of the attack, which he described as “a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity.” I can’t remember ever hearing of his remarks and prayers, and I’m excerpting some of those prayers and intentions here, which he delivered on September 12th in St. Peter’s Square:
For the Churches of the East and the West, and in particular for the Church in the United States of America so that, though humbled by loss and mourning, yet inspired by the Mother of the Lord, strong woman beside the cross of her Son, they may foster the will for reconciliation, peace, and the building of the civilization of love.
For all those who bear the name of Christian, so that, in the midst of many persons who are tempted to hatred and doubt, they will be witnesses to the presence of God in history and the victory of Christ over death.
For the leaders of nations, so that they will not allow themselves to be guided by hatred and the spirit of retaliation, but may do everything possible to prevent new hatred and death, by bringing forth works of peace.
For those who are weeping in sorrow over the loss of relatives and friends, that in this hour of suffering they will not be overcome by sadness, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death.
For those suffering and wounded by the terrorist acts, that they may return to stability and health and, appreciating the gift of life, may generously foster the will to contribute to the well being of every human being.
For our brothers and sisters who met death in the folly of violence, that they find sure joy and life everlasting in the peace of the Lord, that their death may not be in vain but become a leaven bringing forth a season of brotherhood and collaboration among peoples.