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Last Sunday on my posting I was wondering how to honor and pray for military men and women and Veterans without saying they gave their life for our freedom. The next day my friend, Frank Pauc, who writes the blog Father at War send me this reflection on a conversation he had after mass last Sunday. Frank is a veteran, has a son in the military presently who fought in Iraq and another son about to enter the military. He is also a pacifist who believes in “loving your enemy.”
His reflection was in the form of a ‘letter to the editor’ to the local Catholic Newspaper. I hope, but doubt, it will be published. But here it is:
On Pentecost I served as lector during the 10:30 Mass. Immediately after the liturgy was complete, a man approached me and said, “I’m going to tell the priest this too, but you didn’t say one word about the troops! It’s Memorial Day weekend! I’m so upset about this!” The parishioner rushed off before I could respond to his remarks. He was busy tracking down our priest. His passionate comments were not completely accurate; during the prayers of the faithful, we did ask God to remember those people that had given their lives in the service of our country. Apparently, that was not sufficient for this gentleman.
If I had had the opportunity, I would have told the irate parishioner that I had served in the Army, and that our son has seen combat in the Iraq war. Fortunately, our son has survived his battlefield experience. I agree wholeheartedly that we, as Catholics, should honor our soldiers and pray for them. We should do that on Memorial Day and every day.
If I could, I would ask our congregation to pray for our troops, and then take our prayer a bit further. We ought to also pray for the civilian non-combatants in our wars, the women and children who are killed or wounded simply because they get in the way of the fighting. If we can do that, then we might also find it in our hearts to pray for the enemies of our nation. Perhaps we could pray for the members of the Taliban who have died in battle, leaving behind widows and orphans. These people are also created in God’s image, just like our son. God loves them too.