We come together today to remember in faith three things.
We come together today to remember in faith all who have served, and continue serving in our Canadian Armed Forces, especially those who have died and those wounded in battle. We pray for healing and peace; that one day, all peoples will lay down their arms and embrace one another as brothers and sisters in one human family.
This Sunday, Remembrance Day—11 November 2018—marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I (1914–18). On this day, as in years before, Canadians from Coast-to-Coast Ad Mare Usque Ad Mare will observe one minute of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to remember and commemorate those who served and died in all wars and armed conflicts.
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, after 52 months of slaughter and loss, the guns of the Great War at last fell silent, the fury of conflict was replaced by a deafening silence. In that fragile gap between the sounds of dying and the cries of relief, we were faced with all we had done, all we had lost, all we had sacrificed.
In that silence, we met a truth so obvious and so terrifying we swore we would never take up arms again.
We vowed never to forget.
By 1918, death had lost its individuality. The high casualties suffered by most Canadian battalions often reduced them to half-strength. Constant reinforcements arrived and many of them lasted little more than a few months. It was hard to have long-term comrades –in-arms because death was so common and so random. Death was not exceptional; it was the normal condition. Its uniqueness had an impact only on the soldier’s devastated family, and the advice to them normally came as a brief, bureaucratic formula letter. A few platitudes became a receipt for a life.
We built monuments – massive pillars of stone and metal – and placed them at the very heart of our towns and cities, so they might stop us daily in our tracks.
We collected names, wrote these names in books and carved them into walls in a constant effort to save those we failed from the faithlessness of anonymity.
And we pledged to gather in our communities each year at this hour on this singular day of Remembrance so that we might fall silent again and again and again.
Our Remembrance Day Mass and Service also provides our school family with a far more heightened sense of Remembrance. Today is an opportunity for us to welcome home, and to remember in faith, with the family and friends of our Fallen Knights – members of our very own school community who – just like you – walked these halls and filled them with laughter and joy. These Knights no longer walk among us. Today we also take pause to renew our promise to them… our fellow brother and sister STMC Knights – those we vowed never to forget… that We will remember them!
Lastly, in every Mass we are called to bear witness and remember. We remember in faith the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this Mass we remember how Jesus entered the Holy City of Jerusalem – at the beginning of Holy Week – to be betrayed, arrested, tried illegally, ridiculed, tortured and executed. Jesus came humbly – riding on a donkey – the traditional beast of burden of the poor. But Jesus triumphed over suffering and death. God raised Him to everlasting glory. Jesus rose to Eternal Life. His resurrection is our hope of triumph over trials and troubles.
In every Mass we remember the saving death of Christ. We not only remember it but we re-enact the saving death of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine and we believe that Jesus is really and truly present with us. At the Last Supper Jesus said to his disciples: “Do this in memory of me” – in other words: Forget me not. Remember. We are determined not to forget the fallen from our own community.