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A Reflection for Memorial Day

American-Flag-irI write this blog with some feelings of timidity, some fears that it will be ill-received, and with some hesitation.

When I started thinking about Memorial Day, I tried thinking of it as a national holiday, which it is. I was also taunted by the idea that remembering those who have died in war has become a global need – not only a national one.

So many parents, wives, husbands and children mourn and remember loved ones who have died in wars far from home or very near home.

Some of these wars are centuries old – waged in the name of age-old political, economic and/or religious differences. No matter what the causes of today’s conflicts, current wars seem marked by a greater intensity of hate, cruelty, and total (I’d go so far as to say evil) intolerance of differences of any kind.

Bottom line here? I want to suggest that we celebrate Memorial Day not only as a national holiday but as an international holiday as well. I am not suggesting we start a movement or demean in any way the origins and intent of the United States’ celebration.

I am simply suggesting that, as we remember those deceased women and men who died while serving in our military, we also remember all the deceased women and men who died while serving in the militaries of their nations.

What assuages my fear and hesitation is the desire of the Godhead “that all will be one” – in spite of the fact that we witness daily scenes of destruction and hatred via all kinds of electronic media.

What gives me courage is daily praying the Sisters of Providence “Litany of Non-Violence,” written by several of our sisters years ago. Of late, two verses in particular have grabbed my heart:

Deliver me from the violence of superiority and disdain.

Grant me the desire and humility to listen

with special care to those whose experiences

and attitudes are different from my own.

God of love, mercy and justice,

acknowledging my complicity in those attitudes,

actions and words which perpetuate violence,

I beg the grace of a non-violent heart. Amen.

 

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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4 Comments

  1. Donna Butler on May 25, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Denise,
    Thank you.

    I reply with this sobering thought from Etty Hillesum who was murdered in Auschwitz.

    “If all this suffering does not help us broaden our horizon to obtain a greater humanity by shedding all trifling and irrelevant issues, then it will all have been for nothing.”

    SO may all the suffering of all the wars, not only of families of those who served in the military but of all the civilians whose lives have been taken – may all this suffering compel us to take a different path.

  2. Tracey Horan on May 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

    As someone with family members who have participated in the armed forces and as someone who has had opportunities to see the impact of our military influence elsewhere, I resonate with the difficulty and hesitation you express. Thanks for these reflections and for urging us toward a broader view, Denise.

  3. Mary Tomlinson on May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Denise, Wonderful reflection. A good reminder that we should the services of so many around the world. My Father was in WWII. He came home safely, but I remember as a kid, that we’d all go to Mass on Memorial Day followed by a solemn procession through the local cemeteries. My Father was a member of the VFW for many years. Thanks, Mary

  4. Paula Modaff, S.P. on May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Denise,
    I see your reflection as an invitation to continue to put into practice the inclusiveness to which you have referred more than once before this. Thank you for your courage in the midst of trepidation. Paula

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