While Memorial Day has its origin as honoring war veterans, many citizens choose the day to remember their deceased loved ones as well. The birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, NY. There on May 5, 1866 local veterans remembered those who served and lost their lives in the Civil War. Shops were closed, flags were flown at half-mast, and flowers were placed on the graves of the deceased veterans.
From that time, and especially in 1888 when a major observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery, until the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.
As a child, one early memory of this important day of remembrance was getting into our old Chevy wagon and going over into Forest Hills, Hyde Park and those neighborhoods where there are several cemeteries. On the way we would stop and purchase flowers, baskets, ivy, and the like. The whole experience was unusual for me as family members explained that a deceased grandparent or other relative was buried here and on this day we place flowers at the graveside to honor and remember. I had never met any of these deceased and so the occasion offered family a chance to tell me something of their story. Looking back over the years, I can see that the simple experience of going to the cemetery and remembering brought into the present the reality of that person’s life and often a recollection of the blessings that one brought to our family.
There are so many Americans who have served in the military. And for we who have, this day has a special meaning. We recall those with whom we have served and/or those in the same branches of the service who served in the same places, bases, ships, planes … who lost their lives in service. And on this day, everyone is caught up, once again, in the tragedy of war. How many great leaders of nations, religions and armies have made impassioned pleas to end war and not to go to war? And yet our human condition is such that at times we are unable to resolve the intractable issues of world conflicts without going to war.
This Memorial Day, as is at times the case, falls in the Easter Season. The centrality of the empty tomb and belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead frees us to see the grave as not the end of the story of a life. And so we remember how fragile is this sweet experience called life. And we ask our merciful God to receive our beloved dead to a place of eternal peace and to bless us, the living, with courage to create an ever more just world. For the words of Pope Paul VI in the late 60’s remain prophetic and wise, “If you want peace, work for justice”.
MEMORIAL DAY PRAYER
Most Loving and Faithful God, You loved humankind into being and you bless us now with each precious moment of life. Our hearts are grateful for your loving faithfulness. Grateful, too, are we for the millions of loving acts that blossom from human hearts around us every day.
On this Memorial Day Weekend, we remember those we love who are now enjoying the fullness of Your promise.
We especially remember with deepest gratitude and awe the extraordinary men and women who, out of love, followed in the footsteps of your son, Jesus, and made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day. Keep these fallen heroes in the light of your loving care.
Help us to be mindful of the wounded heroes in our midst who, with valorous hearts, risked their lives that we might prosper and that our children’s futures might be secured. Shower your love and care on the families of our troops. We ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes, and we pray your peace, provision, and strength will fill their lives. May the members of our armed forces be supplied with courage to face each day. May they feel our love and support, and may they trust in You who are with them always.
We ask you this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
In today’s Gospel we hear part of Jesus’s final discourse to his Apostles. Jesus speaks from his heart, giving instructions and encouragement to his closest friends and then turns to pray to his Father. Listen to his prayer. It is his prayer for us: “…I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me…”
Take time this week to reread this gospel as Jesus’ prayer for us.
What feelings does his prayer evoke in you?
How will you respond to Jesus in your prayer?
“My spirit was broken and as far as I knew beyond repair. I was consumed with feelings of remorse. During the retreat, I realized the lasting impact of forgiveness. I knew God had forgiven me, and now I needed to forgive myself.” – A Project Rachel Retreat Attendee. The Project Rachel ministry of the Archdiocese of Boston extends a special invitation to women suffering from the pain of a past abortion to attend a Come to the Waters of Healing one-day retreat.
Retreats will take place on June 4. Locations are confidential. Limited to ten participants per retreat. For more information, contact Project Rachel at
508.651.3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome the opportunity to provide the Sacraments of Confession, Communion or Anointing of the Sick to anyone
who is home bound, either on a short or longer term basis.
We want to do our best to help them feel connected to our community.
Please call us at 617-242-4664, if you, a relative or neighbor is open to
having a home visit for some friendly conversation and prayer.
Transformed in Love
is the Archdiocesan program for marriage preparation.
For upcoming 2019-2020 dates, locations, and registration information, visit
Liz Cotrupi at email@example.com