Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the official National Holiday set aside to remember those who died while serving our country in the armed forces. My mom always called it Decoration Day. Growing up I remember it being the day that we took flowers to the cemetery for all of our family members. There were always American flags dotting the landscape of graves throughout the cemetary. Although Veterans Day in November is the official day to honor the service of all those in the military, many will pay tribute to all soldiers on Memorial Day. This holiday weekend also typically marks the end of school, beginning of summer vacation, picnics, parades and graduation parties. And of course here in Indiana we have the Indy 500.

This morning on Memorial Day I said goodbye to my soldier as I have so many times before. This time though he is not gone for long and he is not going overseas. He was home on leave this long holiday weekend in the midst of a 2-month class he is teaching. He will be home in less than five weeks and back to his civilian life and job. We still miss him though. It’s not the same when he isn’t here. I still pray for his safe travel, even though he’s only 10 hours away. I still smile when I see his face pop up on my phone as it’s ringing. I still tell him I love him and miss him every single day even though I can count the days until I see him again. And even though he’s not deployed, his military obligations will keep him away from special events in our daily lives. Last week he had to miss Gina’s 8th grade recognition night. He missed Mother’s Day and won’t be here for Father’s Day or our Church Picnic. But we are luckier than many military families. Many many soldiers in our countries history left home and never returned. Today my thoughts and prayers are with those families. They gave everything so that we could be free.

Dear Heavenly Father,
With a sober heart we come before You this Memorial Day.
We pause for a moment and call to mind
all the men and women who have died in the service of our nation.
Dear God, please look with mercy on our brave and selfless brothers and sisters,
who did not shirk from their task but gave themselves completely
to the cause of defending and protecting us all.
Bless all who have given their lives for the sake of liberty,
and grant them eternal rest with You.
We remember also our brave men and women now serving in our Armed Forces,
both at home and abroad.
Dear God, send out Your angels to protect them all.
Help them discharge their duties honorably and well.
Please bring them safely home to their families and loved ones.
Please bring Your peace and mercy to our troubled world.
We ask this, Father, in the name of Jesus, Your Son, our Savior and Lord.
~author unknown

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Sacrament of Marriage

Last weekend, I was privileged to be invited to witness the marriage ceremony of Katie and Jeremy. It was a wonderful ceremony and refreshingly different than most weddings I've been to. Many Catholic couples in our area choose St. Joseph Church for their wedding. It is stunningly beautiful and large enough for most weddings. It has a long center aisle which is perfect for the procession of flower girls, bridesmaids and groomsmen. It was apparent though from the beginning of the ceremony that Katie and Jeremy didn't choose St. Josephs because it is big or because there was plenty of room for a big wedding party. As the first (and only) bridesmaid came down the aisle followed by the maid of honor my first thought was "ah, this is going to be a simple wedding". And I smiled because I knew immediately that this couple was focused on why we were there. As Katie came down the aisle on the arm of her father, it was refreshing to see how beautiful she looked in her wedding gown. It wasn't sleeveless, it wasn't low-cut. It was perfect. Katie and Jeremy came there that day putting the love of God first in their minds and knowing that he deserves nothing less than reverence and modesty. This wedding wasn't about putting on a show but about keeping the focus on God. This wedding Mass, like every Holy Mass was a re-presentation of the sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary. And second to that it was celebration of a man and a woman forming a lifelong covenant bond. When the time came for the exchange of vows, the Priest stepped down into the center aisle closer to the congregation as Katie and Jeremy took their place near the altar. And again I smiled. A Catholic priest presides over a Marriage ceremony but he does not and cannot administer the Sacrament. Katie and Jeremy administered the sacrament of Matrimony to each other. The priest is the official witness representing Christ and so his presence there is essential for the sacrament to take place. But the couple confers the sacrament. How beautiful it was! I was honored to be there in Holy Worship of our Lord and to see two young Catholics who understand what being authentically Catholic is all about. God Bless them as they begin their new life together.