On Memorial Day, we remember those who have died in service to our country. Many Americans enjoy having a day off work on Monday in observance of this federal holiday, and celebrate with barbecues, boating, and other activities to ‘kick off the summer’, but we shouldn’t forget the reason for the holiday.
Many parishes celebrate a special Mass for Memorial Day, and some even offer Mass in a cemetery. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to remember what the day’s all about,” says Danielle Bean, author and editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest. “As Catholics, we have the unique privilege of having the opportunity to pray for the dead. That’s a wonderful way to truly show respect and honor to those who have given their lives for our country.”
Learn About the History of the Church in the Military
Many priests served in the military as chaplains to minister to soldiers in battle. “If you’re not familiar with [the Archdiocese for the Military Services], do some research. There’s a lot in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States—it’s a beautiful and rich history of a variety of lay people and also priests who have served our country through the military and have sacrificed for the sake of our … freedom and the things that we enjoy, so that we can be enjoying our Memorial Day barbeques,” says Bean.
National Moment of Remembrance
Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which asks Americans to spend 60 seconds in silence each Memorial Day at 3pm local time, to remember those who have died in service to the United States of America. “I love that the National Moment of Remembrance exists, because it happens to be at that hour of Divine Mercy and it works out so perfectly in conjunction with our Catholic Faith to take that opportunity to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or at the very least, take those 60 seconds to remember those who have given their lives,” says Bean.
Visit the Cemetery
“There are probably cemeteries that you pass by every day … and maybe you don’t even notice them. But this is a great opportunity on Memorial Day to take the time to stop and actually walk through them and learn something about the lives of the people who are buried there,” suggests Bean. “Give them that honor and respect of cleaning up, perhaps, and decorating their grave.”
“There are lots of charitable organizations that focus specifically on providing services for veterans, so there could be one that’s local to you that could use your helping hands, your time and perhaps a visit. We forget the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us, and they’re sitting forgotten in different places in our society,” says Bean.
Prayer for Memorial Day
from the USCCB
God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.