Humbly, We Pray on Veterans Day

Tomorrow's observation of Veterans Day prompts us to authentic feelings of patriotism. We rightly and thankfully honor those who have served in our nation's military. Providing for our homeland's defense is an honorable profession that deserves deep respect and proud reverence. We include our deceased veterans in our prayers during this month of November that begins with days that acclaim our saints and remember our beloved dead.

Pope Francis commemorated All Souls Day with a visit to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Netuno, Italy, to pray for those who died in World War II. His words were chilling: "Wars produce nothing but cemeteries and death."

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I am reminded of a retired admiral who annually sends to the Oblates a check and a listing of names for Memorial Masses to be prayed for each service man and woman who died, under his charge, in the previous year in duty to our country. While Veterans Day is not just for those who died in active service, his utterly lovely gesture is touching beyond measure. It reminds us of the power of prayer, service, and life itself. As St. Francis de Sales wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life, "Nothing can be a stronger proof of love for the thing lost than sorrow over its loss."

We have recently been reminded of the difference between authentic patriotism and painful nationalism. As faithful Catholics who proudly celebrate our American identity, we pray at Mass in the Eucharistic Prayer: "Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit." Our oneness is not as a nation, but as a human family—a nation of nations, living peaceably in the fullness of God who created all of us.

As we pray for our veterans on their day of remembrance, let us pray that the next generation of veterans will never have served in combat. Rather, they will have safely and proudly defended our country and its vast values that make us one nation under Godwithout ever having gone to war.