Service Men and Women Remembered at Memorial Day Mass
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
June 6, 2019
ROCKFORD—As is his custom since coming to Rockford, Bishop David Malloy celebrated Mass on Memorial Day under a tent at Calvary Cemetery near Rockford.
Although it was windy, the holiday’s rain was avoided. The crowd, many of whom wore red, white and blue, seemed a bit larger than at last year’s Mass.
Memorial Day’s specific focus, Bishop Malloy said in his homily, “comes at times to be a little bit blurred and a little bit confused ...
“It is to memorialize and to remember those who took up that (military) service and paid what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion.’ We recall those who in the service died, gave their lives for the freedom for all of us.”
After sharing an estimate of 1.2 million of such deaths in U.S. history, the bishop moved from the larger picture to the smaller, person-by-person, view.
“We think today not just about all of those sacrifices but of each one,” he said. “Not just as the category of the whole, but we should try and pray and recognize that each one of those sacrifices was a great and tremendous sacrifice in its own way.”
Prayers are important in that one-to-one focus, he said. “Each one of those deceased was and is a soul. ... But as we do for all the dead — those known to us and those not — we offer our prayers and we offer this Mass. Especially we pray that if they are in purgatory may they receive their final joy, their final purification, their final union with God.”
Prayers are important for all who are impacted by each death, he noted. “We pray as well for those who are surviving, and perhaps still grieving as family members,” he said. “These prayers are not just pious and empty memories; they are part of our deep Christian and Catholic conviction that our prayers for the dead have, by God’s will, an effect before Him for those who have gone before us.”
Freedom is not automatic, and it can be misused, Bishop Malloy said, calling all to question, “How are we using that gift ... Are we using that gift of freedom in our country, in our state, in our city, in our lives in a way that honors that gift?”
He mentioned the bills moving through the State legislature that holiday weekend to vastly expand abortion in Illinois as “a very concrete example” of one of many issues that dishonor hard-won freedoms.
Even so, there are, he said, “so many chances here for us to do good ... to do what is right before God ... all of this is part of the gift, of the sacrifice that we remember of those who died.”
Bishop Malloy prayed also for the safety of those in active service. The annual Mass was followed by a reception outside the cemetery’s mausoleum.