Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013



My uncle fought in World War II; with the French Resistance, if memory serves.  Or maybe not. Maybe that was a grand embellishment by the family, or my own early imagination.  He never said anything about the war, or about war, to me; except once.

I went to visit him after I'd married and his kids, my age, my cousins I all but grew up with, had all married, too.  So it was just my wife and I and my aunt and uncle.  He picked us up at the airport.  I was reading Studs Terkel's then new book "The 'Good' War."  The quotes around good weren't too apparent in the cover design, and he asked me what I was reading this time (in those days I was always reading).  When I showed it to him, and told him it was about World War II, he said, "I didn't think there was such a thing as a 'good' war."  And he smiled; the kind of smile that always made me think he knew much more about much more than I did, or ever would.

My brother-in-law fought in Vietnam.  When everybody else was going to college so as not to get drafted, he volunteered.  He was Green Beret, and a Captain.  He never told me anything about Vietnam, either, except that when he first arrived there it was the most beautiful country he'd ever seen.  And within 10 minutes, he knew the U.S. had no business being there.  But he did his job; he followed orders.  He was a good soldier, and he's one of the finest men I know.  He's as kind, generous, and open-minded as anyone can be.

I have a recording of the "Airborne Symphony," by Marc Blitzstein.  Maybe it's the first performance, because the narrator is Orson Welles.  I always think of it this time of year, because the most poignant part of the libretto is the section about bombs, and the cities destroyed by planes.  It's "The Ballad of the Cities."  The narrator reads a partial list of cities destroyed by bombs, but the music moves into the "Morning Poem" with the chorus singing plaintively and repeatedly:  "Call the names.  Call the names.  Call the names."

It always seems to me the only appropriate observance of Memorial Day.  Call the names.




PEACE

O Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon us.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.
Arise, O Christ, and help us,
And deliver us for thy Name's sake.

AMEN.

O Christ, when thou didst open thine eyes on this fair earth, the angels greeted thee as the Prince of Peace and besought us to be of good will one toward another; but thy triumph is delayed and we are weary of war.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the very earth groans with pain as the feet of armed men march across her mangled form.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, may the Church, whom thou didst love into life, not fail thee in her witness for the things for which thou didst live and die.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the people who are called by thy Name are separated from each other in thought and life; still our tumults, take away our vain imaginings, and grant to thy people at this time the courage to pro-claim the gospel of forgiveness, and faithfully to maintain the ministry of reconciliation.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, come to us in our sore need and save us; 0 God, plead thine own cause and give us help, for vain is the help of man.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ of God, by thy birth in the stable, save us and help us;
By thy toil at the carpenter's bench, save us and help us;
By thy sinless life, save us and help us;
By thy cross and passion, save us and help us.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

Then all shall join in the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

--The E&R Hymnal

1 Comments:

Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Very fine Memorial Day post, Robert. I like the prayer, especially these words:

O Christ of God, by thy birth in the stable, save us and help us;
By thy toil at the carpenter's bench, save us and help us;
By thy sinless life, save us and help us;
By thy cross and passion, save us and help us.


I believe it is by the whole of Christ's life that we are saved.

I stole your picture for my post, because it was easy. Each year, I find it harder and harder to write about Memorial Day.

10:44 PM  

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