Remembrance Sunday 8 November 2015 was commemorated all around the diocese, with Masses for the Fallen and commemoration services at cenotaphs in different parishes taking place.
Cardinal Vincent joined the commemoration services at the Chapel of the Chelsea Pensioners, preaching the homily. He spoke of the fields of poppies in Flanders which stood as a reminder of the Fallen. Noting that the poppies had replaced wheat fields, he said: 'Here the seed represents not just the finest love that inspires heroism and sacrifice, but the very person of Jesus. He is that eternal love of God made visible in our flesh and experiencing, like us, the reality of death with its fear and abandonment.'
He went on to say that this 'is surely the deeper meaning of the hope to which the poppy can raise our hearts', a promise that is found in the Beatitudes. (The full text of Cardinal Vincent's homily can be found here.)
At Westminster Cathedral, the Mass for the Fallen, which was attended by representatives of all branches of the Armed Forces, was celebrated by Canon Christopher Tuckwell. The concelebrants included Armed Forces Chaplains, Fr Ian Evans, Assistant Chaplain General and Corps Colonel of the Royal Army Chaplains, Mgr Andrew McFadden, Principal Catholic Chaplain to the Royal Navy, and Fr James Caulfield, Principal Catholic Chaplain to the Royal Air Force.
Fr Ian Evans preached the homily, in which he recalled the sacrifice of those who gave their lives or sustained life-changing injuries in the service of their nation. Comparing their sacrifice to that of the widow of Sidon in the first reading who takes a ‘leap of faith, performing an act of tremendous generosity and selfless giving’, and the widow in the temple in the Gospel reading who is ‘prepared to sacrifice her own well-being as a woman of faith and a sign of her dependence on God’s will in her life, sublimating her own needs in response to the needs of others’, he said that service personnel too have demonstrated these same ‘human characteristics of faith, sacrifice and generosity of spirit’.
In Hertford, Bishop John attended the ecumenical Remembrance Sunday Service in All Saints' Church, where he preached the homily, in which he said, 'with gratitude for freedom, justice and peace we remember the Fallen and pray for members of the Armed Forces involved in present day conflicts'.
Looking to the Cross, he noted that 'the victory of Christ over death offers the vision of a world where justice is proclaimed, tears are wiped away and peace will reign'. (The complete text of Bishop John's homily can be found here.)
Bishop Nicholas, who is leading the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, offered prayers with the pilgrims in Manger Square, the site of Jesus’ birth. Reminding us that Jesus was born the Prince of Peace, he prayed to the Prince of Peace to grant eternal rest to all those who had lost their lives in two world wars and in countless conflicts since. They prayed for all who have suffered the ravages of war and have been displaced, particularly in the Middle East. He asked that Jesus send the Holy Spirit upon the leaders of nations to guide them into the ways of peace, truth and reconciliation.