Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
There is no easy way to mark the anniversary of a tragedy. Twenty years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we who lived through that day and its aftermath remember in vivid detail where we were, how we felt, and the universal shock and sadness at witnessing such evil. For those born after the attacks, the world in which they have grown up is very different. As we observe this sad anniversary, of course we remember those who died that day, and we cannot help but grieve a world that remains so badly wounded even with the passage of time.
Time passes. And while we never forget our history, even our history’s most painful chapters, time has a way of sweeping us forward whether we want to go or not. Looking back on these twenty years, we see that life has continued. For all the horror the terrorists visited upon us, there were (to underestimate grossly) triple the number of moments of inspiration and acts of heroism. For all the feeling of hopelessness and fear that nothing would ever be the same, time has helped us continue our lives. Human life has a way of continuing on, finding happiness, freedom, joy, and peace. Here we stand twenty years on from that darkest of days. In a way, that we have made it to this anniversary reminds us that we can, in fact, endure a great deal, and not just endure, but thrive even after receiving such grievous wounds.
Twenty years on, we should also take stock of the lingering pain we still hold, and of the badly damaged state of our world. It will not take much thought to recognize the division, fear, and hatred that is so prevalent in our culture and in our global society. This division and hatred can be healed only in Christ Jesus, though it is much easier to type words to that effect than to engage in the spiritually challenging work of forgiveness. Yet our Catholic faith will always remind us that we are not meant for fear, for hatred, for division. Rather, we are created by a loving God who desires us to be united, not only as a community, but united eternally with Him. The perfect love of Christ, victorious over sin and death, casts out fear. So when we turn to the Cross, we find our peace, we find the source of all harmony. Twenty years on from the attacks of September 11, we are being called to turn once more to Christ and to give Him permission to be in our lives and in our world; to give Him access to the wounds we have buried; to accept in our lives His healing plan and will; to learn from Him the full meaning of the Gospel of peace, and to take Him at His word that we are to carry the Good News of God’s presence and mercy to the ends of the world.