Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

In my community, the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Memorial Day go from cemetery to cemetery to honor the fallen who served our country. They have a prayer, a 21-gun salute, and play Taps. It’s a beautiful ceremony and a touching commemoration. I am certain that in each space, these members of the VFW are remembering someone that they lost during war. The closest I have come to experiencing the kind of loss that these members of the military have had is attending the funerals of former service members, the most memorable of which was my dad’s. At my dad’s service at San Joaquin National Cemetery, the Marines had the 21 gun salute, performed the flag ceremony, presented my mom with the flag, and played Taps. I imagine what it must be like for the families of those lost during a war and know that the significance of Memorial Day cannot be minimized. Their loved ones offered unselfish service to our country and paid the ultimate price.      

St. Francis had his own experiences with war. Before his conversion, he had fought in a battle between his hometown of Assisi and the neighboring town of Perugia. He spent about a year in the dungeons in Perugia as a prisoner of war. We know that experience had an impact on him. He must have better understood camaraderie with brothers, influencing him to work closely with other men in the growth of his Order of Friars Minor. We also know that he traveled to Egypt, where battles of the Crusades took place. He  urged peace between the Christians and the Muslims. In his Canticle of the Creatures, he said, “Blessed are those who endure in peace,” echoing the words of Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Memorial Day offers us the opportunity to pray for those who lost their lives in battle, but also those they left behind: their fellow soldiers, their families, and their friends. The soldiers gave all to protect our freedoms. Those they left behind endure the greatest loss.

Blessed Angela: “May Jesus support you with His grace, so that you may persevere in that attitude, and that you may remain faithful to Him always.”

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