Wednesday, September 11, 2019


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I sit down to write this on September 11th. It’s a date that stands out in many people’s memories. Where were you on September the 11th, 2001? I was near Ottawa, taking part in training for NET Canada. Several of my teammates were American, and one of the Canadians had a friend who worked a block from the Twin Towers. They were huddled around the only TV, trying to find out – and make sense of –what was happening. There was tension in the air, some fear, some sadness, and a lot of confusion. It was a memorable day.

For those who are lucky to be old enough: where were you on July 20th, 1969? The first time humanity set foot on not-Earth. I’ve heard stories from many people, including some who don’t particularly care about anything astronomical. They can recall details of the day, even the specific moments, that go far beyond our usual memories. They know where they were, who they were with, what the TV looked like, and so much more. It was a monumental, memorable experience.

Strong memories are really impressive. We can recall scenes, sounds, smells, sometimes with great clarity. And the emotions! There are a few moments in my life that were so overwhelmingly intense. When I think of one detail it’s almost as though I’m picked up and thrown right back into that moment. I am again overwhelmed with tension, or joy, or anger, or terror, or relief – almost as strongly as in the original experience. I’m nearly helpless, reliving that moment whether I want to or not. I’m there.

I kind of love that, even when it’s painful. I’m there. Months may have passed, or years, or decades. But I’m there, again. Time doesn’t matter so much, because I can be there again.

It makes me think of the Mass. I recall learning that the Jewish notion of remembering has a sense of being present, again, in the memory. It’s not something that happened to others, hundreds of years ago. It’s happening to me, to us, now. We are present at the Last Supper, now. We’re present at the Cross, now. When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” this is what he meant. We’re called back to these memorable moments of our faith. We are thrown back into them, and invited to relive them ourselves. We are there.

So where were you on Sunday, September the 15th, 2019?

Because you should totally come to the parish picnic!


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