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What happened to “Never Forget”?

Up until only a handful of years ago September 11 was still remembered as “Patriot Day”. School children would dress in patriotic garments, there would be 5Ks and other events to commemorate that fateful event, and even the Mass and the intentions of the Mass were for peace, and for the repose of the souls that perished that day.

Today, not even our president made time to be present or transmit a message during the remembrance ceremonies. Children and ourselves did not wear even a patriotic pin. And most sadly, the intentions of the Mass did not include the victims of this attack.

Why do I make a stink about this? Especially since the Gospel tells us how the Pharisees were nitpicking at Jesus’ good works.

Two things. Cultural Memory (1) and praying for the Souls in Purgatory.

Cultural memory is not just an individual private experience, but also part of the collective domain. It shapes both the future and our understanding of the past, and even our values. If we eliminate our cultural memory, we forget who we are, and thus we are easily manipulated into a fabricated “new reality”. We must learn to “remember forward” to avoid the mistakes of the past.

In the matter of praying for the souls in purgatory, we don’t know when God is going to call us. Twenty-two years ago, thousands of people went on to their places of work, boarded planes, were dropped at their childcare facilities, and on and on with their lives. Almost 3000 of them did not see past 10 a.m. EST.

Hundreds of first responders rushed to help the people in the WTC. 343 Firefighters and 23 NYC police officers were declared to have perished during the collapse of the Twin Towers. The first official victim was a Catholic priest, Father Mychal Judge (2). Many of the first responders were Catholics from many ethnicities, mostly Italian, Irish, and Hispanic. A quick glance at their last names can tell us: Anaya, Amato, Amoroso, Angelini, Apostol, Halloran, O’Berg, O’Keefe…(3)

The point is not to focus on the hate and the horror, but to honor and pray for those who ran into danger to help others, and ultimately paid with their lives.

In an interview Fred Rogers, the children’s TV personality once said: “Always look for the helpers, there will always be helpers on the sidelines”. Wherever there is a tragedy, make sure to include them. (4)

Jesus said it better: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15, 13)

Today, say a prayer for the victims of the tragedy, for the conversion of those who wish harm, and remember and teach your children who we are, and why we love. And why we pray and bless all, even for those who hate us (5).

God bless y’all!

5. PAPA Philosophy PSB: Pray, Serve, Bless (PAPA Handbook page 23)


PAPA Foundation
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