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Rome Reports

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NYC Fire Chaplain recalls experience on September 11, 2001


As a Franciscan, as a follower of Francis of Assisi, I guess one of the biggest hallmarks that I try to grab onto is to try and radiate a little joy in our worlds. ;

And as we reflect back on 9/11, some years later now, maybe not too many people would think of joy in that day, that nightmare, that tragedy. But certainly I had the humble experience of ministering there as a fire Chaplin and being with just some amazing down to earth people, whose humanness to me showed their spirituality of brotherhood, sisterhood. And in the aftermath of 9/11, a lot of media coverage and a lot of people asked me ?Did you hear that people saw the face of the devil in the smoke at ground zero?? And I said ?No, I was in that smoke, I never saw the face of the devil?. ;

What happened there, the terrorism was evil. We know that. But what I was able to do, maybe it was the grace of God at work, was to see the face of God in the people I encountered there, firefighters, police officers, rescue people, EMS people, construction workers and heavy machine operators, the rescue dogs, the salvation army, and the other people that provided for our needs. ;

Even I chiropractor I know that worked on my bad back after hours standing there and working at ground zero. I saw the face of God in them, in their simple human goodness. Their care, their dignity of the remains that we brought off the pile and so on. And I was able to besides pray and cry there with people, pat firefighters on the back as they came off their shift, maybe to shake a hand, give a hug, brush the dust off their head and give them a bottle of water, I was also able to maybe joke a little bit. Certainly not about the tragedy, but just about maybe saying to a firefighter: ?Oh your make-up is running?! ;

If we can life people?s spirits in the midst of the sad stuff of our world, I think then like Francis of Assisi, you and I can be instruments of peace, bringing a little joy to our world. And that?s my prayer, that?s my prayer for our nation. Amen. ;