A Prayer for the Anniversary of 9/11

A Prayer for the Anniversary of 9/11

Offered at the VFW Post 1045 on September 11, 2019

by Fr. Peter Fonseca (Department Chaplain of the Florissant Police Department)


Just hours after the attacks of September 11, while the smoke was still rising over New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. Pope John Paul II addressed the world saying “yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity… But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail … Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say.” And so as we gather this evening I invite you to bow your head and join me in prayer.[1]


God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather to remember the tragic moments on this day 18 years ago.[2] As we gather this evening, we recall the words of Jesus Christ, who taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends and we are mindful of the sacrifice of those heroic first responders who demonstrated that greatest act of love by laying down their lives for their friends. So this evening we ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died on this day 18 years ago, most especially the first responders and all the innocent men and women who were victims of this unspeakable evil.


Gathering this evening as a community we ask you to comfort and strengthen the family and friends of all of those who died. Give healing and patience to the survivors of the attack who are living with continued physical or psychological pain. Assure each person whose life changed forever of your protection and strength. Dispel the nightmares; silence the anxiety, and cast the warm light of your love to dispel the darkness of evil.[3]


Heavenly Father, despite the horror and tragedy of 9/11, our country remains a shelter of peace, a symbol of freedom, a beacon light of compassion and justice to the downtrodden and oppressed in the world. Give us the grace to resolve in the face of hatred that we will show love; that in times of despair, we will be voices of hope; that in times of darkness, we will be a source of light.[4]


Lord, this evening we find ourselves grateful for the courageous men and women who have chosen such difficult and dangerous jobs in serving in our military and as first responders. We give you thanks for their sacrifice and service and beg you to help them feel the respect and gratitude of their communities.


As we gather to commemorate the past, we beg you to make each of us an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let us show love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness joy. O divine master grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.[5] Amen.


[1] Pope John Paul II, Wednesday audience of September 12, 2001. Accessible at https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/2001/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_20010912.html

[2] Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer at Ground Zero on April 20, 2008. Accessible at http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2008/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080420_ground-zero-ny.html

[3] Inspired by Carrie Steenwyk, Prayer for the Anniversary of 9/11. Accessible at https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/prayer-for-the-anniversary-of-9-11/

[4] Inspired by Rabbi John L. Rosove. A Prayer for the Anniversary of September 11. Accessible at https://reformjudaism.org/practice/prayers-blessings/prayer-anniversary-september-11th

[5] Make me a channel of your peace, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.