Homily for Memorial Day Mass in a cemetery
Roughly thirty years after St Patrick’s Parish was founded, our nation was caught up in the turmoil and suffering of a terrible Civil War. Many towns, faced with unprecedented numbers of war casualties, started to organize gatherings to honor their fallen soldiers. In 1868, Memorial Day was first observed by the military, and since then it has grown into a national holiday, honoring not only the Civil War casualties, but all the military men and women who have died in the line of duty.
People can legitimately debate many things about our nation’s wars, but one thing that is not in doubt is that hundreds of thousands of American citizens, throughout our nation’s history, have gone to battle to defend their families and their ideals, our country and our freedom. We owe them and their families our gratitude and our prayers. We have gathered here in the cemetery today to honor them and all our beloved deceased, and to offer for them the greatest form of intercessory prayer possible: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Christ gave His life for all of us on the Cross, and at Mass, the sacrifice of Calvary becomes truly present as the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar. The sacrifice is not repeated, but its presence is renewed. We join our prayers to the prayer of our one High Priest, Christ Himself, who acts through the person of the priest to offer His perfect sacrifice of reparation and love acceptable to the Father. Jesus taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, and He led by example. Surely He will embrace in His love and mercy our beloved deceased who heard the call to put their own lives on the line to defend the innocent and the defenseless, and to stop unjust agressors.
May they, who often had to pass through hell on earth in war, be received into heaven with all their sins forgiven. And may God bless all the men and women currently serving in our military. May he protect them from harm and help them to avoid all evil. In Jesus name, Amen.