Remembrance Day Thoughts
Nov 12, 2018
On a rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President's house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.
A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key's tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go.
They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.
"It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone," Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win.
The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of "the dawn's early light" on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.
Key put his thoughts on paper while still on board the ship, setting his words to the tune of a popular English song. The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed it, and within weeks, Key's poem, now called "The Star-Spangled Banner," appeared in print across the country, immortalizing his words—and forever naming the flag it celebrated.
This weekend we celebrate Veteran's Day, but as much as we remember the countless brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of freedom, we are also reminded each time we see an American Flag that freedom is never free and often comes at the greatest cost of heroic lives sacrificed and lost for a cause we hope is worth dying for.
As a Priest, I have had the honor to officiate at funerals of Veteran's whose feats of heroism and devotion to God, Family and country, though never making the history books, nonetheless are the characters and stories that not only make authentic history but insure the promise of a hope filled present and future to those wise enough to listen to these highly decorated soldier's legacies of nobility and honor…virtues that sadly in this country have been replaced by mediocrity, complacency, gross entitlement and self-surrender to the idols of cellular social media.
Veteran's Day is also referred to as Remembrance Day…and really, this is not just one day out of an entire year that we should recognize our Veterans but every day, especially as Christians who have been enlisted and commissioned at Baptism to enter the battlefields of this life to confront and overcome the forces of evil that are running rampant all over the place, all over the lives of those we hold most dear.
Last week, we celebrated two Confirmation Masses here at the Parish. It was a great and glorious day but also a highly significant one for the entire world. The Traditional understanding of Confirmation is that when Confirmed, a young man or woman was being designated a soldier for Christ.
Typically after the anointing oil was applied, the Bishop would then give the newly confirmed a little smack on the cheek to indicate that one was willing to take one so to speak for God. This gesture was meant to call to mind the courage that was required to boldly and bravely live and defend one's faith in a culture and world hostile to Christianity.
Whoever coined the phrase: “War is hell.” Perhaps had no clue how profoundly correct he was. Because there is a Hell, there is sin, suffering and death to contend with. Christianity is a call to arms to combat these forces of discouragement and destruction. And that is the primary purpose of gathering each Sunday…yes we do so as a family but more importantly as an army getting ready and prepared for battle in order to protect and defend this family.
How sad it is, that with so many people being Confirmed you would think that the ranks of Church going soldiers would swell to standing room only. Imagine if the many who enlisted in our military never showed up for combat…the results would be disasterous…With no one to protect and defend because of desertion it is only a matter of time before that family is overrun and overcome by those forces of evil.
Every Sunday is Remembrance Day. We remember that there is no greater, more heroic, more noble and more self-sacrificing soldier than Jesus Christ who at one and the same time confronted all of our greatest enemies: Satan, Sin, suffering and death: all of our sins, sufferings and death upon the battlefield of Calvary.