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The Tragedy of September 11, 2001

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By Louis J. Christopulos
St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church
Greenwood Village, Colorado

What can one say after the horrific and tragic events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a day of infamy that will forever be remembered. Each of us, as long as we can remember, will recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the sickening news. Some of you who are old enough can say the same thing about Pearl Harbor. Those who are a little younger than me and a little older can say the same thing about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Most of us can say the same thing about the Oklahoma City bombing and we all can say the same thing about Columbine.

These, and other more or less contemporary tragedies, as horrific as they were and are for us, our nation and the world to one degree or another, pale in comparison to these tragedies of terrorism.

What do we feel? Our emotions run the whole gambit. From the initial shock and disbelief and confusion to a deep sadness, pain, emptiness and sorrow, to anger, resentment and even hatred and then back to shock again. We ask WHY? Why? Why? Our hearts go out to the thousands of innocents in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania who lost their lives. To the thousands of others who were injured. To the rescue workers, the firefighters, policeman, physicians, nurses and counselors. To the tens of thousands who are wives, husbands, children, parents, siblings, relatives, and co-workers of the innocents. To the New Yorkers-those brash, say it like it is, self assured New Yorkers, who have been brought down to their knees. To our military, whose headquarters is no longer a Pentagon but now a quatragon. To our President and his cabinet who are facing perhaps the biggest challenge since the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960’s. Our hearts go out to America, to Americans - we have been violated as never before within our borders - you see we generally have been immune to these things. They happen in other parts of the world. To be sure NOTHING this significant or to this degree, but they happen. We, my dear brothers and sisters have just lost our innocence…

How do we respond? What can we do? We act as Christians! What do Christians do in times of senseless, unjust, heinous acts against innocent people? We grieve for the innocents and try to do everything we can for them, their loved ones, the survivors. We help physically and we PRAY. There is a deep and spiritual dimension to these and tragedies, they are evil. In the words of St. Paul,

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication….” (Ephesians 6:11-18)

We struggle with hatred - pray for those who have done these things. I encourage you to join with me to do at least the following: Please covenant with me to establish a 40 day period of prayer, mourning and fasting (if you are able). We will conclude with a memorial service on Sunday, October 21, 40 days after the disaster; Please wear the red, white & blue ribbon with the Cross everyday for those 40 days. (If you haven’t received one please get one at the Church office); Pray the prayer, “Prayer for the Tragedies of the Terrorism of September 11, 2001” (on page 2) everyday; and give monetarily through O.C.H.O. (Orthodox Christians Helping Others). We will collect these monies at St. Catherine and send them to I.O.C.C. (International Orthodox Christian Charities) to be distributed to those in need.

In conclusion, may the memory of those who lost their lives be eternal. May God guide our leaders to react in a Godly way. May he heal those injured and comfort all those grieving. May God bless America and all those throughout the world.

In Christ,
Rev. Louis J. Christopulos
St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church
Greenwood Village, Colorado