Today, of course, is the anniversary of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
I remember that day…the horror I felt then, and the horror I felt when I saw photos of people jumping out of the towers in order to escape the death of the flames and explosion on the inside – only to meet their death on the pavement below.
In the last few years, becoming more aware of the Catholic view of sin and death and eternity, I think more about the state of those souls at the moment of their deaths. How many were not in a state of grace? How many had committed unconfessed mortal sins? How many were Catholic? How many had been baptized?
The death they met was horrific, but what awaited each one at the moment of judgment before God?
I guess I think about death a lot – not just my own, but others’. For instance, recently, I was listening to family members discuss a hostage situation in which the perpetrator killed himself before being taken into custody. They made rather callous comments about how much money that would save the taxpayers in the cost of imprisoning the man and bringing him to trial, along with the multitude of appeals that would ensue when he was found guilty. But all I could think of was the fact that he had committed horrible sins before his death, and his suicide was one more to add to the list. Is he in hell? Did he have a conversion of heart as he was dying? God’s mercy is infinite…
Then there was the man who kidnapped and held prisoner those young women – for 10 years. Sexual abuse, physical abuse… And he hung himself in his prison cell. I felt sad about that, too, even though I know the crimes he committed against those women (and their unborn babies) were inexcusable, in human terms. But did his suicide mean he had come to some realization of how bad those sins were? Of course we can’t know that. And we can despise his crimes, but we cannot ignore his soul! Lord, have mercy.
Finally, on this day of remembering thousands of deaths, I saw this observation made on Face Book:
“Which is a greater (and more valid) tragedy? The 3K killed by terrorists on 9/11 or the 3K babies we killed ourselves on that same day? I don't wish to downplay the one, but neither can I downplay the other.”
Yes, I agree with that sentiment. While we don’t know the state of the souls of the 9/11 victims, we do know that those aborted babies were completely innocent. But because of the stain of original sin, and the fact that they could not have been baptized, we know that those unborn babies are not in Heaven. They enjoy perfect natural happiness with God, though, and that is no small gain. Still, it is heartbreaking to think of those little unborn souls who never saw the light of day on September 11, 2001…and the thousands that die in the same way every day of the year.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.