Bittersweet emotions on Memorial Day at Resurrection Cemetery


Flags and hearts bowed down to the eternal God, who rules over the living and the dead and is merciful to all.

To him, several hundred people offered sacrifice and supplication during the Memorial Day Mass in the Resurrection Cemetery Mausoleum in Jefferson City.

The annual Mass is offered for all who gave their lives in service to this country and for all who have died within the past year and are now at rest in the cemetery.

The living prayed and worshiped alongside the covered niches where nearly as many of their forebears now await resurrection on the Last Day.

Father Stephen Jones, pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish, presided at the Mass, assisted by Deacon Ric Telthorst of neighboring St. Peter Parish.

In his homily, Fr. Jones said gathering to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice  brings a combination of sadness, joy and opportunity.

“Sadness, of course, in that there has been loss,” he acknowledged, asserting that nearly everyone present has in some way been touched by the death of somebody who was serving in the military.

“Whether it was a direct relative, a family friend, an acquaintance, someone we know, all of us could probably make that claim,” the priest noted.

So, mindful of the eternal bond the living share with the deceased, “we gather here today to remember those folks — to remember that God honors those ‘who lay down their life for a friend.’”

Fr. Jones is convinced that all who have died in service to God and country fall into that category.

“So, we come to the altar of God to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to receive Holy Communion, and to pray for the repose of their souls,” he said.

With that loss comes joy, because of the Christian conviction that through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “we have been given a new birth and a living hope.”

“Hope is the central key theme for us as Christians — that when this life has ended, God’s life for us continues,” said Fr. Jones.

“For us who have been reborn in Baptism, who call God our friend, who strive to live in union with him, death does not conquer us. It has been conquered by Jesus Christ,” he said.

So, mourning always takes place in the context of celebrating that living hope that all Christians share.

There also comes an opportunity whenever Catholics gather to celebrate the Mass, hear God’s Word proclaimed in Scripture and receive the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“That is the call that Jesus gives each of us to give the entirety of our life to him,” said Fr. Jones.

“That opportunity, that call of ‘follow me’ — to ‘get rid of everything that holds you onto this world, and follow me’ —comes to each one of us every day of our lives,” said Fr. Jones.

Every day, each believer must determine how he or she will respond to that call.

“Will we recognize that everything we are and everything we have doesn’t belong to us — but rather to the one who created us, who redeemed us and who calls us into living and deep relationship with him?” the priest proposed.

“Or will we hold a part of ourselves back?”

While honoring and praying for those who have made sacrifices both substantial and complete for their country, it’s good to remember God’s continuous call to everyone to hold nothing back from him.

“May the grace of God be in our hearts,” Fr. Jones prayed, “to lead us always to give our lives completely to the Lord and his service.”