Observing Memorial Day

This Memorial Day might look different than in years past. Whether you’re in a state that has opened up or you’re still under lockdown, chances are you won’t be heading out to any big events or public gatherings just yet. While Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, make sure you set aside some time to remember what the day really means.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday to honor and remember all those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It’s a day to recall their ultimate sacrifice in service to defending the vulnerable and upholding our freedoms. It’s a time set aside to pray for the souls of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in military service to our country, and the families that they left behind.

Whether or not you can leave your house on May 25, 2020, you can still observe this solemn Memorial Day through the eyes of your Catholic Faith.

“Attend” Mass
You may have the opportunity to attend a Memorial Day Mass at your local parish, or you might have to tune in to a Mass broadcast (Fr. Rocky will celebrate Memorial Day Mass at noon CT today. Find the video stream here). Either way, set aside some time to pray the Mass for the souls of all those lost in service to our nation. As Catholics, we understand the importance of praying for the souls of the dead. It’s one of our spiritual works of mercy!

Visit a Cemetery
Another way to pray for the dead is to visit a place where they are buried. Most cemeteries will mark the graves of military veterans with American flags. Consider walking to these gravesites and praying for the men and women by name. If you can’t go out to a cemetery, take a drive through the cemetery or simply pray for the deceased from the safety of your home. Here is a simple prayer for a departed soul:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Observe a Moment of Silence
The National Moment of Remembrance occurs each Memorial Day at 3pm in your local time zone. Americans are asked to pause for one minute of silence to remember the lives lost in military service. As Catholics, we can do better than 60 seconds. Since 3pm is also the hour of Divine Mercy, why not pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for those souls?

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.
Amen.