From celebrating live-streamed Masses to empty pews to standing six feet away from friends and neighbors at the grocery store, encountering surreal situations on a daily basis has become the new normal. The sights of this pandemic’s effect are everywhere around us, including on Memorial Day. Since I was installed as bishop of our diocese in 2013, I have celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston or Calvary Cemetery in South Portland each Memorial Day. During these gatherings in sacred spaces, we, together, cherished and honored those who have died in the service of our country.
This Memorial Day, my celebration of Mass will take place indoors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. COVID-19 and the subsequent guidance on large gatherings have forced a one-year move of venue, but remembering the sacrifice of these brave men and women and our shared gratitude for their selflessness is still at the heart of our prayer for them. Flags still adorn the gravesites at cemeteries across the country. I was touched to see families working together to complete this beautiful gesture at Mount Pleasant Catholic Cemetery in Bangor earlier this week. It was a fitting tribute, and a comforting reminder that even in this time of crisis, the memory of the fallen will never be forgotten.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the ground of our hope. He shows us the Father’s love and mercy. In the hope that Jesus gives us, we believe that those we remember on Memorial Day live with the Lord. We pray for them and their families, and entrust them all to the loving embrace of God.