Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
Blessed Independence Day to everyone.
I have been able to visit Arlington National Cemetery a number of times. Like it is for many, my favorite place there is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its 24/7 guard. It reminds us of all those who have given themselves for us to live in our country and the challenge to exercise that freedom well.
Arlington cemetery has eleven veterans of the revolutionary war buried within its rolling hills. Its history stretches all the way back to the very beginnings of our country.
I have never lost an immediate family member in military service. But I know many families who have. I think of them in a particular way on these days and what they must go through. I imagine them asking, crying out, these three questions as they think of their loved ones who have died in defense of our country. Does anyone remember? Does anyone care? Does anyone pray?
We need to take time to remember: How true it is that we better appreciate something when we know what it took for us to receive it. In this way July 4th is an encouragement for us to learn better our own history. I love reading so I will put a shameless plug in for our local libraries- stop by one and pick up a book. I am spoiled with Hudson’s library being right next door to the rectory and they have an excellent selection to pick from. The more you know the more meaning these days take on.
We need to care: For the men and women who sacrificed on our behalf, for the families who miss them, we need to care. Above all else it is for us to use our freedom well, not in a selfish and self-serving way, but a way that brings fulfillment and joy. The Church has said it this way: “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself”. This is the way we show that we care and through it we find life.
We need to pray: It is our great duty to pray for them. The Church has these ancient prayers for the dead. Take time to pray for our deceased service men and women:
- Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
- May they rest in peace.
- May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen