Sunday, 11 November 2012

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine...

The march from the Carfax after the service.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

I was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of the Remembrance Sunday service in the Carfax this Sunday morning. I am very glad to say that the place was packed (you could barely move!) and as we prayed for the dead from all conflicts there was a deep sense of reverence in the atmosphere. Even if we have never known a person who has served or died in a war (although I'm sure that most of us probably have) it is important to remember them, to keep the knowledge of what war is and what war does and what war costs (in terms of the lives of servicemen and women) fresh in our minds. The sacrifices of our armed forces must never be played down or forgotten, what they underwent for our sake is too important to be put to one side. Wearing a poppy is a simple but powerful sign that they still have a place within our hearts, that they mean a great deal to us. But is it enough to simply keep the two minute silence? Should we not do more for those who fought to keep our country and its people free and safe from harm?

Just as May and October take on special significance for us as Catholics in being dedicated to the Blessed Virgin during November we remember all those who have died. On the first we celebrate the saints in heaven and on the second we look to those souls still undergoing their purification in purgatory. These feasts remind us that not only can we rely on those who form the Church Triumphant to intercede for us daily with God (CCC 956) but that our loved ones who have died can still benefit from our prayers here and now. Our penances and sacrifices, however small, our prayers and daily devotions, still make a big difference and we are encouraged, this month in particular, to take this more seriously and to pray more regularly that the people in purgatory will come into the light of God's presence in heaven.

So why not, this November add to the wearing of the poppy, add to the two minute silence, add to the commemoration by saying a prayer each day for the souls of everyone who died in war. It can be something small, like a Hail Mary or, if you have time, perhaps the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The lighting of a candle is a powerful prayer too. In the martyrs chapel for the whole of this month we also have a book where everyone can write the names of people they'd like to be remembered in the Mass, why not add a name? Our prayers never go unheard and are never fruitless. Even if we cannot see their effects right now we can trust in God that they have indeed helped someone.

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