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Online Edition:
August 2011
Vol. XVII, No. 5

Patriot Day
September 11th - 10th Anniversary

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops published “Liturgical Considerations for Sunday, September 11, 2011” in the Newsletter of the Committee on Divine Worship (May 2011). The article follows.

Liturgical Considerations
for Sunday, September 11, 2011

Patriot Day is observed every September 11 to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. The date falls on a Sunday in 2011, and this year’s observance commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks will be a cause of much reflection and remembrance. To help clergy and pastoral ministers prepare for this anniversary, the Secretariat of Divine Worship offers a few considerations on how best to observe Patriot Day within the context of the Liturgy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011 will be the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. All things being equal, the Mass of the day is celebrated, with appropriate intercessions and chants or other liturgical songs chosen to mark the observance of Patriot Day. In cases of serious need or pastoral advantage, however, the diocesan bishop may direct or allow for the celebration of a Mass formulary from the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 374).

Several formularies would be fitting for the occasion: the Mass for Peace and Justice (with white vestments) or the Mass in Time of War or Civil Disturbance (with purple vestments). In some circumstances, a Mass for the Dead might be appropriate as a memorial Mass for the victims of the terrorist attacks, especially at churches and oratories with particular ties to individuals who died that day or are closest to the sites of the attacks (New York, NY, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA).

The assigned Lectionary readings for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (no. 130) are particularly poignant, but may provide a particular pastoral challenge for preachers, as they address questions of forgiveness, vengeance, and God’s mercy. The first reading (Sirach 27:30-28:7) states, “The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for He remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice…” In the Gospel (Mt 18:21-35), Jesus addresses the question of forgiveness (“[H]ow often must I forgive?”) with the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

Background notes and suggestions for preachers, sample General Intercessions, and other pastoral suggestions will be prepared collaboratively by several USCCB departments and posted on the USCCB web site (USCCB.org).

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