As I did yesterday with my posting about Benito Valentin, I feel it more appropriate to share some thoughts about someone else whose role that day was far more important and whose sacrifice was far greater - the first official casualty of the World Trade Center attack, Father Mychal Judge.
In both Catholic and Orthodox traditions, there are many times one becomes a saint through a mass grass-roots movement.
It would surprise few that there is a large grassroots effort to canonize Mother Theresa. There is a popular movement to recognize Yevgeny Rodinov, a Russian solider martyred in Chechnaya, as a saint, and many Russian Orthodox faithful already consider him to be one.
Those who support Rodinov for sainthood do so not just because he was murdered because he refused to renounce his faith when captured by terrorists, but in part because he was a fallen hero in the nation's war against the Chechen terrorists.
Which brings us to the effort to seek sainthood for Roman Catholic priest Father Mychal Judge, the NYFD chaplain who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. His death certificate is listed as Number 0001, the first official casualty of the terrorist attacks upon the city.
I keep thinking about Father Mychal Judge who I passed quickly as I was going to the Police Department command center and he was going toward the Fire Department command center. And I shook his hand, and I asked him to pray for us. I said, "Father, pray for us," because I knew how terrible it was. And he looked at me, smiled and said, "I always do," and then moved on.
And he was the first person that we lost at the World Trade Center.
Controversial to some, but not me.
While I will not claim to know all the issues that should be considered for his canonization, nor can I say if he meets the criteria, I hope that his canonization receives the fairest and fullest consideration. His humble and selfless works, as well as his martyrdom on 9/11, are worthy of consideration, and certainly of rememberance.
Regardless of any "official" determiniation, like Rodinov, it should be considered that he has already become a de-facto saint through the adoration of many who remember him for his good works and tragic martyrdom, as depicted in the icon above. In such a situation, canonization may already be recognizing what is already commonly believed, and it would hopefully be difficult not to canonize him without good reason.
As we remember those we lost that day, and as we reflect upon how that terrible day has affected us as individuals and as a nation, let us consider the example of faith set by Father Mychal, whose prayer is carried on by those who remember and honor his life:
Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say;
And keep me out of your way.
Today, let us remember those we lost that day, as well as those who have fallen since in our nation's continuing efforts against terror, both at home and abroad, and let us be thankful for their sacrifices.
Benito Valentin and Father Mychal Judge are just two of nearly three thousand people who were callously murdered by the terrorist atrocities committed in the United States on September 11, 2001. May their memories be eternal ...