Remembering the fallen

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

These powerful words from the poem “For the fallen” by Laurence Binyon are uttered most powerfully on this particular Sunday every year. In every town and city crowds gather to remember our fallen who gave their lives for peace and freedom across the two Great Wars and conflicts ever since.  But this year there will be no great processions, no throngs of crowds gathering and remembering due to a different battle in the world – the Covid-19 pandemic.  But as we look at and utter these words individually we should remember the power of remembrance and recognise that in the true sense of the word our acts are not diminished.

At the Last Supper Jesus uttered the words “Do this in memory (remembrance) of me”.  These words are not a mere call to symbolic action, for in the Jewish understanding and therefore in the mind of Christ himself, in the act of ‘remembering’ the very act we recall makes the event and its effects truly present.  In the liturgical life of the Church we call this the ‘anamnesis’.  It is the high point of the Mass, where we call to mind the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven as a memorial of what occurred during Christ’s visible stay on earth as a pledge of what he continues to do invisibly through the Eucharist.

Whilst we may not be able to gather in vast throngs at our cenotaphs or even in our churches, the little acts of remembering that take place today whether they be in small groups, or individually at home, are as powerful and tangible today as in past years.  And in the act of remembering let us recall the mind of Christ himself at the Last Supper.  He gave up himself for all humanity on the Cross; our fallen gave up themselves in the name of peace in this life.  Both sacrifices live on for all ages.  So as we stop for 2 minutes and recite those powerful words of Laurence Binyon, let the effects of the sacrifice of our fallen wash over us, that we may be beacons of peace in the world and work in unity for an end to all conflict.  May the peace of Christ be with our fallen and may they rest in peace with him forever.  Amen.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

The 2020 Remembrance display at St. David’s Cathedral, Cardiff