Remembrance Day - "Lest We Forget" - Nov. 11, 2020 - S+L Mass at MQW Cathedral downtown Montreal

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Hello. I’m Father Gilles Surprenant. We gather together on the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours to offer this Daily Mass from Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal. On this Remembrance Day, we offer Holy Mass for Monica Keating requested by her sister Sheila, for Donna Côté and the Rizzo & Reed Families requested by Flora & Martyn. Donations have been made by a friend.

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What for most of the British Empire in 1919 began as Armistice Day to celebrate military victory after WWI changed in 1931. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month on Remembrance Day we remember those who have fallen in military conflicts.

Remembrance Day is also a call to remember the horror of war and to embrace peace. The human heart longs for peace and would rather not have to go to war. In the controversy over war and peace, we Christians are guided by Jesus’ answer to a question about paying taxes to the Emperor: Jesus said:  “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Jesus’ words help us understand that it is honorable to perform our duty to our country in time of war as well as in time of peace.

In 1915 Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote a short poem I had to learn by heart in grade school. The sudden death of a young comrade on the battlefield inspired him to write the poem. Hardy poppy seeds had lain dormant in the soil. When disturbed by bombs and grave digging they sprouted and bloomed into their bright blood-red flowers.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Born in Guelph ON,
John McCrae served as a physician in Toronto and Montreal. He was 45 when he died of pneumonia and meningitis in France where for 3 years he treated wounded soldiers from nearby battlefields. His poem is a call to arms in solidarity with the fallen.

So, whom am I remembering today? Whom are you remembering today?

Every November we remember our deceased loved ones. Today we also remember victims of aggression and inhumanity throughout the world. For those who die, we believe that in his mercy God provides a time of purification for them if they are not ready to endure the intense happiness of God’s love in his company in Heaven. While we are still here on Earth, the courage of the soldier encourages us to face the shadows and dark secrets that may weigh down our souls.

Like St. Martin of Tours, the soldier leaves family, home, & country to go into the unknown to resist the powers of evil and fight the atrocities of violence and war. In the Beatitudes Jesus calls us to leave bad habits and unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves to go without fear into the days and nights of our lives and give loving attention to others who suffer, are helpless, or forgotten. Whenever we give our loving attention to others we are blessed indeed.

A Prayer for Remembrance Day

God of love and justice, lest we forget them; 
today we remember all men and women who died in defense of our country and its freedom.

Help us to honour their sacrifice
through our prayers and actions for peace in our world.

By your Holy Spirit, let our neighbours not be invisible to us.

Let your Spirit help us to let go of misunderstandings, 
hatred and prejudice;
so that we may grow together as one family. 

Guide our steps towards neighbour and enemy alike in the way of peace.
As we pray thus, in our walk with Jesus Christ, 
          the Prince of Peace;

May we experience your deep blessing and healing – 

O God, the Father, + the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.  

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November 11 

Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop 


(Taken from Divine Office . org)

“Our thoughts turn especially to Martin of Tours († 397), the soldier who became a monk and a bishop: he is almost like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor man: Jesus himself, that night, appeared to him in a dream wearing that cloak, confirming the permanent validity of the Gospel saying: ‘I was naked and you clothed me… as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:36, 40).” [1]

St. Martin of Tours was born in the 4th century. His father forced him to become a soldier like himself and forbade him to practice Christianity. While Martin served in the Roman army, he showed charity to a beggar, cutting his cloak in half and offering it to the man. This event, and the ensuing vision of Jesus, caused Martin to seek baptism. He lived for a time as a hermit, then gravitated to Poitiers, where he knew St. Hilary and founded a monastery at Ligugé, which still exists. Around 372, he was elected Bishop of Tours, despite his objections. As bishop, he lived in the community he founded. Also, he spent much of his time evangelizing to the rural poor. He died in 397. His life, written by Sulpicius Severus, became a model for saints’ lives.[2][3]

Written by Sarah Ciotti
Reviewed by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, STD

[1] Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est,” 40.
[2] Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, The Martyrology of the Monastery of the Ascension, 2008.
[3] F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), 879.

© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-
2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

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