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Memorial Day

Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  It has taken on various meanings.  For many it marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season.  In New York State it is the time when people plant most of their gardens, assured that there will be no more frosts after Memorial Day.  Corresponding to the “no more frost” theory, it is the day that many people visit cemeteries to put flowers on the graves of their loved ones.  This is the closest to the original purpose  of the Memorial Day holiday.

The exact origin of Memorial Day is uncertain (see http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html).  Celebrations of Memorial Day date back at least to May 30, 1868.  It was a day to honor those who had died in the Civil War.  Since then it has become a day to honor all who have died in service of our country.

So I encourage you to take a moment today to pray for all the men and women who have died in service of our country.  War is never desirable.  There should never be armed conflict.  War is seldom justified.  The Catholic Church gives seven criteria for a “Just War”.   There has been (and continues to be) much debate as to whether the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are justified.  That is not what I want to talk about today.  While war should always be avoided whenever possible, whenever there is war, whether we agree with it or not, we need to pray for all those involved (on both sides).

We pray for our world leaders, that they always strive for peace through diplomacy, and when they make a decision for military action, that it be quick and only as necessary.

We pray for our military leaders, that as they plan military actions, that they strike only true “military” or terrorist targets, avoiding the loss of innocent life.

We pray for the individual soldiers, for their safety. While they are not responsible for the decision to fight and the planning of attacks, we also pray for them to always seek to avoid collateral damage and the loss of life.

Lastly, on this Memorial Day, we pray for all who have died defending our nation and standing up for freedom and all that is good.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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