Journeying in the Faith – Remembrance

On the 11th November in 1918, at 11.00am – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the First World War came to an end. Much of the war had been fought in dug-out trenches across Belgium and France. It is thought that about 9 million soldiers lost their lives, and about 27 million were wounded – many of them permanently disabled.

At 11.00am, the fighting stopped everywhere, six hours after the Armistice was signed in a railway carriage in northern France.

This is a particularly special remembrance day because it is 100 years since the end of WW1 and since the first armistice day.

Remembrance is a time to be sad, but also a time of hope. A hope of a better and more peaceful world today and in the future.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

(Matthew 5:1-12)

Many of us will be wearing poppies. We wear them to show that we still think about, and pray for, the men, women and children who died in the first and second world wars, and all wars around the world − including ones that are still going on. The money that is raised from them is used for servicemen and women who are still alive, but whose lives have been changed by war.

The poppy was chosen for a very special reason. In the First World War, a lot of fighting took place in France. For four, terrible years, people fought and died in the fields of northern France. The war finished, at 11 o’clock on the 11th of November 1918. The next spring, the fields where the fighting had taken place had grown over with millions and millions of red poppies.

The poppy was chosen as a symbol for people to show that they had not forgotten the dead − of both sides.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

These words are so powerful. Let’s just look at that first line for a moment: “They shall grow not old.”

When someone dies, we remember them as they were the last time we saw them: they don’t change but are fixed in our memories. And it’s like that with the men, women and children who have died as a result of war all over the world. To their friends and families who are left behind, they will never change.

Laurence Binyon, who wrote those words, didn’t fight in a war, but he did want to help, so he joined the Red Cross and, during the WW1, went out to a very dangerous place near the fighting and helped wounded soldiers, whether they were friends or enemies.

He believed in peace – a peace we too hear about in the Gospel of St John.

Jesus’ message to his friends, and so to us, is one of peace. His words are used in the mass to remind us of this important message.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

(John 14:27)

Let us pray

Lord, remember all of those people who have died during war, those who were alone and those in the company of others.

Lord hear us

Lord, remember those who acted with compassion, bravely risking their lives for their comrades.

Lord hear us

Lord, help us to love and take care of one another, to be kind and not selfish. Let us show respect and trust for one another.

Lord hear us

Lord, we pray for all of those who are currently in the army, fighting for peace in the world.

Lord hear us

Lord, for all of those who are affected by war today, especially those in Syria and Iraq.

Lord hear us

Lord, for those who work tirelessly to make our world a more peaceful place. We pray that one day there will be peace all around the world.

Lord hear us

We turn to our Mother Mary, asking her to take these prayers to her son, who taught us how we should live in peace. Hail Mary …

Light different colour candles and think about all of these people as you light the candles.

Red – the colour of blood. We remember all those people who have been injured fighting in war.

Orange – the colour of bright orange jackets worn so that people can be seen, while they work to look after people who are in danger. We remember police, fire fighters, ambulance teams and anyone else working in danger.

White – often seen when someone is missing. We remember all of those people who are away from home or are missing in the world.

Pink – the colour of love. We remember those serving our country today.

Blue – the colour of the peacekeeping forces. We remember those who are working for peace in our world.

Violet – represents many different things. It can mean people who are brave. We remember all of those people who are having to be brave at the moment, especially those caught up in war.