Of course, today is the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field.
Time makes the divide from the day ever longer, but its emotions -- the grief, the shock, the concern, the fury, the search for hope, the need for God -- haven't dimmed... and, in a way, they can never be.
This anniversary brings to the fore the reminder that, every day, in places far beyond New York, Arlington and Western Pennsylvania, there are many out there who, day in and day out, still grieve, still love and miss terribly those they lost on this day. And there are others still -- particularly the heroic souls who went into the fire -- who carry with them forever the effects of injuries, trauma or the most harrowing of memories and experiences from the evil that shattered what began as an unusually, eerily beautiful September morning.
There were a few close calls within our clan -- one cousin had to run, literally for her life, as the Twin Towers collapsed, another was at a Midtown meeting as her office at the old 7 World Trade quaked with a force that would bring it down in a matter of hours.
Stories like these aren't few in number, and while it's a cause for intense gratitude that those who made it out OK did, it's more than just tinged with the pain of knowing that not everyone was granted the same fate... and it's they -- whether spouses, children, parents, loved ones, friends, colleagues, some even many of the above -- who our prayers should especially be with today.
To mark the anniversary, Greg Kandra -- the Emmy-award winning writer of the CBS documentary on the attacks, now a permanent deacon for the diocese of Brooklyn -- posted the prayer of Pope John Paul II, given at the general audience of 12 September 2001, and here reprinted below.
Brothers and Sisters, in great dismay, before the horror of destructive violence, but strong in the faith that has always guided our fathers, we turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation of his people, and with the confidence of children, pray that He will come to our aid in these days of mourning and innocent suffering.-30-
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
O Almighty and merciful God, you cannot be understood by one who sows discord, you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence: look upon our painful human condition tried by cruel acts of terror and death, comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time may again know days of serenity and peace. Through Christ our Lord.