Yesterday we planned a dinner for my son, his girlfriend and her two children. As always the house is never up to par when company is to come and a quick 'pick-up' of the house brings about its own crisis. So yesterday, being 9/11, I spent the morning after coming home from the 7:30 Mass, picking up, cleaning, getting the food ready to cook and...watching the ten year old documentaries and live footage of that fateful day in NYC.
Of course, the homily at Mass coincided with the Gospel reading of forgiveness, and much was said about the terror of 9/11 and the perpetrators of that terror, and how forgiveness for a Christian is the only option. True enough. We are indeed called to forgive our enemies. This makes us Christians odd ducks in the world. How does one forgive the handful of men that murdered over three thousand innocent lives in those towers? How do we, as Christians, explain this forgiveness to others that do not follow the teachings of Christ? More than one person told me in the weeks that followed the attack that they could not forgive such actions. Understandable. It is impossible to do...on our own and without His grace.
I can usually forgive someone of something they've done or said to me easily enough when it's not a big offense, but the bigger the offense, the harder forgiveness is in coming, though it does come eventually.
So, have I forgiven those that committed that act of terror? I have, yes, and from the heart, but! I have not forgotten what they did. How can I? We have been given memories and to try to forget something as terrible as 9/11 is not very easy nor very probable. What I mustn't do is dwell on those memories when they come to me, as they did yesterday watching the replay of that day. I didn't feel any bitterness yesterday or hatred for that matter, but the memories came back vividly, and I do not think there is anything wrong with that.
We've been told to forgive and forget. That's a load of bull. Yes, I can forgive and have forgiven 9/11 with His grace for my strength, but I cannot forget, nor do I want to. When we forgive someone that has cheated us for example, we may forgive them, but we now have to be wary of them because of what they've done; that we do not get cheated again. That's being practical. Just because we forgive someone doesn't mean they are now on the straight and narrow for all time and we can let our guard down. Yes we we've forgiven them, but now that trust has to be built up again and that takes time.
What I will not forget about 9/11 is who did this: Islamic fundamentalists. They have stated over and over again that we are the enemy, the infidel, and Islam will one day conquer this world. This faction of Islam has said it will not rest until all it's enemies are put to death or have converted to Islam. The western culture and Christianity in particular are considered the enemies of Islam. Yes, I have forgiven these men for what they have done, but I also know and remember what they continue to espouse; death to all that do not succumb to Islam and they have been true to their word. Since 9/11, over 17,000 separate acts of terrorism have been committed against not only military personal, but against the innocent men, women and children worldwide, that did not deserve to be murdered, but whose deaths were to serve as an example to all of us that will not accept Islam.
No, I will not accept Islam as the true Faith. I have one, true faith already and it is the Catholic Church. Will I forgive these people? I already have. Will I now forget? Not on your life, nor mine.