I had the honor of offering two prayers during the Memorial Day Observance here in Carmichaels at Laurel Point Cemetery today.
In 23 years of pastoral ministry, this was a first for me. I looked to Scripture and other Christian clergy through the years for inspiration. What follows are two of those prayers that connected with me the most.
Hear Our Prayer This Day
In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing …
You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.
Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone …
Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs …
Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice …
Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace …
Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts…
Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.
The peace of God be with you.
– Austin Fleming
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With Gratitude and Honor
Gracious God, on this Memorial Day weekend,
we remember and give thanks
for those who have given their lives
in the service of our country.
When the need was greatest,
they stepped forward and did their duty
to defend the freedoms that we enjoy,
and to win the same for others.
O God, you yourself have taught us
that no love is greater than that
which gives itself for another.
These honored dead gave the most precious gift they had,
for loved ones and neighbors,
for comrades and country – and for us.
Help us to honor their memory
by caring for the family members
they have left behind,
by ensuring that their wounded comrades
are properly cared for,
by being watchful caretakers of the freedoms
for which they gave their lives,
and by demanding that no other young men and women
follow them to a soldier’s grave
unless the reason is worthy and the cause is just.
Holy One, help us to remember that freedom is not free.
There are times when its cost is, indeed, dear.
Never let us forget those who paid so terrible a price
to ensure that freedom would be our legacy.
Though their names may fade with the passing of generations,
may we never forget what they have done.
Help us to be worthy of their sacrifice,
O God, help us to be worthy.
– J. Veltri, S.J.