Tag Archives: 9/11

The Seeds of Remembrance

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By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap. When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Who is the sower? 

Perhaps us.

Indeed, we sow many seeds in our lives: the ideas, hopes, dreams, fears, and desires of every generation are sown into the ground of our culture. As #neverforget germinates throughout social media today, I’m struck that almost all the students who will attend our Mass of the Holy Spirit this morning cannot remember 9/11/01. The seniors are eighteen at the oldest: this means that they were four years old when the Towers went down, perhaps starting pre-K when the Pentagon smoldered. And where were the eighth graders when a few brave souls said, “Let’s Roll,” but solely hope in the hearts of their parents.

I #neverforget the smell that drifted over the Hudson River some years ago: the smell of two missing buildings, the haunting incense of evil covering our lives.

The seeds of death were planted this day so many years ago; years, these seeds grew into many things, of varying shapes and sizes: grief and horror, compassion and mercy, remembrance and renewed hope. My students today may not have experienced the planting of these seeds: but they can certainly take their cues from us on how we’ve nurtured the seeds of remembrance. May a plant of mercy grow where the Towers stood – and may not of us, even those of us who weren’t there to remember, never forget.

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On September 11: The Reason for Our Hope, Mychal, and the Priesthood

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By Matthew Janeczko, OFM Cap.

One of the regular attendees at the 6:45 mass mentioned to me yesterday that she didn’t envy me.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because you need to preach tomorrow.  It’s 9/11.”  And yet, there is no place I think I could be otherwise then at the altar, at the ambo, immersed in God’s Word, sharing God’s Table with the always faithful People of God.

The only way the tragedies of our world can possibly be endured (for they will never make sense:  of this I am certain) is precisely because we gather around the Word and Sacrament each day in defiance of the powers and principalities that wish God didn’t care about the world, about the flesh.

All of the horrific instances in our world, from those of the largest scale, wretched men turning transportation into flying weapons of terror, to those experienced every day, the unwanted child, the abused mother, the jobless and despondent father (and every combination therein), do not receive their meaning from the Cross.  Rather, our response to them – all of these damnable marks of a broken world – finds its origin in the Christ and His Cross.  For within our worship of the Crucified God, we find our only source of strength, our sole means of our endurance, and the single most illogical reason for our continued hope:

It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:34)

And so, idiosyncratically, narrowly, what in the word does this mean for me, a priest?

I read something that Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote last night and it perhaps gave me the answer to this question:

I don’t think the hands of a priest should simply go through the routine gestures when baptizing; rather, they should tremble with emotion because at that moment he is performing decisive  gestures that become a foundation.*

The job of the priest, it seems to me, is to tremble with emotion when with the people: whether it be in the sacraments, in a simple conversation, in counseling the despondent – anything at all.  Priests must continue to tremble because they find themselves situated within the greatest web of grace: a conduit (unworthy as they are) between the Crucified God and the Crucified People.

On this day, this anniversary that I wish didn’t happen, this remembrance that is marks the beginning of a state of war that is, quite plainly, the only life my high school students have known, I remember that I’m a conduit of the grace of God.  I think of men I didn’t know, but wish I knew, like Father Mychal Judge, OFM, the priest they call the Saint of 9/11 (and a saint before that even) precisely because he himself knew the Crucified God so well and couldn’t stop himself from being Crucified with his firefighters, with his parishioners, with women and men who believed themselves forgotten by the Church, and who died, not raised up, but buried.

And yet then, as now, from being buried beneath the rubble, he is raised upon the Cross, still crucified, but raised no more to die: a servant who lived with his people and died with them.

Mychal Judge, pray for us.  Pray for me.

* Open Mind, Faithful Heart, “Joy and Perseverance, 20-1.