By Maria Bohan
Over Memorial Day Weekend, social media will be full of posts about barbecues, fireworks, and beach trips, while your inbox will be overflowing with many emails about great sales at department stores. Although many will focus on the festive aspect of Memorial Day over the next few days, it is important to remember the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring the brave women and men who gave their lives for our freedom. Here are seven prayers to help honor those we have lost and those who are still in service: 1. God of power and mercy, banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears, that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters. Keep in your mercy those women and men who have died in the cause of freedom and bring them safely into your kingdom of justice and peace. We ask this through Jesus Christ. Amen. (From Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers)
2. Gracious God, on this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with your strength and peace. In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe. We ask this through your name. Amen. (Author unknown)
3. Almighty God, upon the cross, sorrow and pain and every dreadful, tragic consequence of sin was overcome. Today we remember all those who have joined in that sacrifice for peace and justice. We give thanks for the bravery of women and men who have served for harmony and love. That hope overcomes despair,that joy overcomes sorrow, that peace overcomes hostility,that love overcomes hate. From the tomb, the promise of Christ, grace was poured into the hearts of all those who suffer, mourn and grieve. We lift our hearts to you and continue to remember, to hope and to love. Amen. (From www.lords-prayer-words.com)
4. On this Memorial Day, I am thankful for the sacrifice so many throughout our history have made, for the women and men who made the ultimate sacrifice and for their families who had to carry on without them. It is a sacrifice that is easy to forget. For those who have it, freedom is like oxygen. It’s something we just have. Many will not understand just how precious either is until they are at risk of being taken away. There are encroachments being made on our freedoms right now by those who think they know better. This is a conversation for another time. Today I remember a sacrifice made and a debt I cannot repay. Today I pray for God to bless the families of those who have lost loved ones while serving our great nation. I pray for God to bless and comfort the walking wounded who are still with us, and bless their families as well. It is also my prayer that we remember their sacrifice and the precious gift of freedom every day, not just once a year or when they are in danger of being taken away. (From preparedchristian.net)
5. As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Please hold our service women and men in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and your presence as they stand in the gap for our protection. We also remember the families of our troops. We ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes, and we pray your peace, provision, and strength will fill their lives. May the members of our armed forces be supplied with courage to face each day and may they trust in the God’s mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support. In the name of Jesus. Amen. (From Mary Fairchild at About.com)
6. Heavenly Father, Today we remember and pay tribute to the women and men of the Armed Services who have died in the defense of our nation: from the days of the Revolution to these days in Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. They paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we hold so dear. In the words of Sacred Scripture we hear, "There is no greater love then this, than to lay down one's life for a friend." It is only by your grace and the love they have for you and this nation that gave them the strength to lay down their lives. We beseech you God, to receive these servants of peace into your loving embrace and grant them the eternal peace that surpasses all understanding. We also remember the family members of these great heroes. They too suffer a great and painful sacrifice. Bestow upon them the blessings of your consolation and peace. May you ease their sadness as they continue on the road to serenity and hope. To you we offer this prayer knowing you fulfill the heart's desire of those who seek you with noble intentions. May our prayer for true and lasting peace be answered in accordance to your will and for the good of your sons and daughters. Grant this through Jesus Christ, the King of Peace. Amen. (Archdiocese of Detroit)
7. All-powerful and ever-living God, when Abraham left his native land and departed from his people, you kept him safe through all his journeys. Protect these soldiers. Be their constant companion and their strength in battle, their refuge in every adversity. Guide them, that they may return home in safety. We ask this through Jesus Christ. Amen. (Author unknown). Maria Bohan is a Volunteer for the Communications and Development Office at the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York. She is a student at Bryn Mawr College majoring in English and a graduate of Pearl River High School.