In Remembrance and Thanksgiving: the Blue Mass
Earlier today, it was my privilege and honor to celebrate the 23rd Blue Mass at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church. With all the pageantry of a procession with honor guard, bagpipe and drum corps, officers on horseback and fire ladder trucks outside, this yearly liturgy in the Church of Washington is offered for all those who give of themselves in public safety and law enforcement, including local police, firefighters, first responders, and others whose service helps keep our community and nation safe. In particular, we gather in prayerful and grateful remembrance of those heroic servants who made the supreme sacrifice in the fulfillment of their duties.
Each time we come together in this way, giving thanks to God for all those who have the care of the community as their responsibility, and asking the Risen Lord’s blessings upon them, we bear witness to the glory of love. What motivates these valiant men and women day in and day out, ultimately, is love – their love of their families to be sure, and also their love for the community, their selfless love for those they do not even know, for those who may not even like or appreciate them, but for whom they are willing to risk their own lives. This love is reflected in all of the routine day in and day out challenges they face all the time.
This annual Mass, to which all from every religious commitment and faith conviction are invited, is something we do every year lest we ever forget how much we owe all of those who every day put on a uniform at the service of the community – at the service of you and me and our own loved ones. We do this every year because of our need to say, “thank you.” We need to thank God for those who place themselves between us and harm. We need to let them and their families know that we know how significant their actions are and that we are truly grateful.
Recognizing that not every law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency responder or medical personnel returns home at the end of their shift, we pray especially for the fallen and their families. A hallmark of the Blue Mass is the solemn reading of the names of the officers who died in the line of duty accompanied by the sounding of Taps. Reflecting our faith in the Resurrection, our prayers are directed to our loving and ever-merciful God, whom we ask to receive into his kingdom of new and eternal life those who have paid the last full measure so that others might live, prosper and be free. We also pray that the Lord of all consolation heal the pain of their families, lifting them up from the depths of grief to the peace and light of his presence.
Let us today and everyday give thanks to God for the gift of courage for those who stand up and stand in the way of harm for others. May we always stand together in recognition of their great gift of self which allows us to live in security and freedom as we offer our own personal service in helping to build a truly good and just society.