Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost (4 Epiphany)—11 November AD 2018
Ave Maria!


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The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany celebrated after Pentecost
Dóminica Quinta quæ superfuit post Epiphaniam


     Congratulations and God's blessing on all of you who have served our country in military service and have earned the title "Veterans."

    When I was a young man, the holiday we observe on November 11th was called “Armistice Day.”  It was called that because on the eleventh day of the eleventh month (at eleven in the morning!) a cease fire was negotiated to stop the combat known as World War I.  It was not a peace treaty—that would come a little more than a year later—but at least the shooting had stopped.  Shooting that lasted from late July of 1914 until this day in November of 1918—one of the deadliest wars in human history.

    We don’t know if any of the people who negotiated the armistice were aware of it, but they had picked the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours, 11 November, on which to reach their agreement.  Martin was the son of an important Roman military officer, who followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a part of the Emperor’s guard.  But Martin was a Catholic, and became conscious of the fact that not all wars are just, and refused to accept his pay to enter a particular battle.  At first he seemed to be in a lot of trouble, but simply found himself dismissed from the army.  We don’t seem to have any of his writings, but we can assume that his ideas about what would make a “just war” would be similar to those of Saint Augustine, his contemporary.  Martin became a disciple of Saint Hilary of Poitiers, and was eventually consecrated bishop of the Roman city of Tours (in modern day central France).

    November 11 is also the day our friend, Monsignor Paul F. Marceau died in the early 1980s.  Also a Frenchman, Marceau was also a soldier—a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Chaplain Corps.  He served in World War II, and I think it is fair to say that he was also a man of peace.  His major concern was that Catholic soldiers have the Sacraments of the Church—more than once I heard him say: “I’ve celebrated Mass on the hood of a Jeep; I’ve celebrated Mass on a bale of hay; about the only place I never celebrated Mass was underwater.”

    Monsignor and his men were in combat with the Nazis.  But I never once heard him say anything bad about the German foot-soldiers—they too had been serving their country, and many of them were also Catholics.  He had pleasant stories about them singing Christmas Carols—the language was different, but the melodies were often the same.  He had the use of a German church once on Candlemas Day.  To the post-war German priest, a beeswax altar candle was an unthinkable luxury, so Marceau requisitioned dozens of boxes for the G.I.s on February 2nd.  After the candle blessing, he gave the troops stern advice that they were to leave the candles in the pews when they departed.  The German and the American soldiers, he said, had a common ally in Jesus Christ.

    If it is hard to think of soldiers as men of peace, consider that virtually none of them enter the Service with intention to kill, rape, and plunder!  They may have to do some awful things to get their war over with, but getting it over and protecting their homeland are their first priorities.  As with any large group of people, there may be a “few bad apples in the barrel,” but they are no more than normal.

    During World War II, our 34th President held the five star rank of General of the Army.  On the day he left the White House, Eisenhower cautioned the citizens of America:

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted: only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.[1]

    Better than most, Eisenhower knew that wars are not started by Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines.  Nor did the troops make decisions about intervening in someone else’s war.  What Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex” were certainly not the Veterans whom we celebrate on November 11th.  They were those dark forces who stood to earn dividends in money and power by forcing our troops to fight, even if there was no just cause for war—who stood to profit by redirecting the nation from peace to war.

    As Eisenhower wrote “… only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals….”  To this we must add: “a politically active citizenry.”  It is necessary that our representatives be required to act on our behalf “so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

    Finally, let me urge everyone to understand that a “knowledgeable citizenry” will require a knowledge of American military history—and it is very likely that none of us got that back in high school.  If you want to honor our Veterans—particularly those who gave their lives for our freedom—I would urge you to seriously research the reasons for our Nation’s entry into Its major wars.  Unless you understand the real causes for the firing on Fort Sumter, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the successful bombing of Pearl Harbor, you will be powerless to resist the next evil act of the military-industrial complex.  (And if you cannot identify these beginnings with their wars, you are in particular need!)

    May God bless all those who have given military service to our great Republic, both the living and the dead.  Above all, may He bless those who have given their lives defending freedom and truth.





Dei via est íntegra

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