On this tenth anniversary of this great national tragedy, I thought it was worth repeating. Let’s all pray that one day soon, there truly will be peace in our world.
Most people don’t know that the first recorded victim of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was a Franciscan priest.
Fr. Mychal Judge was a chaplain with the New York Fire Department and raced to the scene of the World Trade Center as soon as he got the news.
As he was giving last rites to one of the many fire fighters who lost their lives that day, both were struck by falling debris or bodies, and killed instantly. A spiritual son of the author of the Peace Prayer, Fr. Judge lost his life while serving to his last breath.
The story goes that when the rescuers recognized the body of the priest, the carried him out and took his body to a nearby church, where they placed his body on the altar. I’m not sure if this really happened, but I remember thinking at the time that it seemed perfectly fitting with what had happened. The Paschal Mystery before our eyes.
I was going to write of my own powerful experiences that day, but now that I’ve been reflecting on Fr. Judge, I think I’ll save my story for another day. The profound nature of his death, along with all the countless others that we know so little about, is enough to reflect upon.
The other day, I happened to see a holy card on the floor underneath my bed. When I pulled it out, I saw that on the front was a beautiful image of a sunrise over the ocean. On the back, a prayer written by Fr. Judge. This is exactly how it’s written:
(A great way to start the day)
Where you want me to go,
Let me meet
Who you want me to meet,
What you want me to say,
And keep me
Out of your way. Amen
Mychal Judge, O.F.M., Cap.
First death recorded at
New York City
September 11, 2001
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace. Amen