Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
11 Nov 2011
At 11 o'clock today many Sydneysiders fell silent for one minute as did the guns on the Western Front fall silent in 1918 after more than four years of continuous and horrific warfare.
The silence was to mark the 93rd Anniversary of the Armistice, known today on 11 November as Remembrance Day.
There were Remembrance Day Services around the country including Martin Place in Sydney where hundreds gathered to remember those who died in battle and, hopefully, for the other victims of war and conflict - the families and friends of those who gave their lives.
And are still giving their lives. Something of which everyone has been aware these past couple of weeks following the recent deaths of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
So 11 o'clock today took on a special significance for many, especially the family and friends of Captain Bryce Duffy gathered for this Queensland soldier's funeral. Captain Duffy was one of three killed by a rogue Afghan soldier.
Today was also the Feast Day of St Martin de Tours, Patron Saint of Soldiers, and the synergy was not forgotten by some. One being the Catholic Military Ordinariate, Bishop Max Davis AM DD, also known as the Bishop of the Australian Catholic Defence Diocese.
"In the universal Church St Martin de Tours is the patron saint of soldiers and it seemed to me today this was a very appropriate synergy to think about Catholics," Bishop Davis said.
"Here was a man who experienced the military lifestyle. Clearly at present we are influenced to varying degrees by recent events of our armed forces serving in Afghanistan. And we are aware of our responsibility in the Church to pray for those who have died in the service of their country.
"We are particularly aware this day of one soldier whose funeral has been held in Queensland.
"Our men and women however have always gone off to service, to combat what is basically 'sticking up for the good'.
"My prayer from which I think we can all draw comfort, is that when the souls of those who have died in battle, when they are facing Our Lord, they know they have given all for the right purpose; for goodness," Bishop Davis said.
Although there many words today about 11 November 1918, there were also calls to remember more recent conflicts. More recent loss of life, more heartache.
Monsignor Greg Flynn, principal chaplain, Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Waterloo, celebrated a Remembrance Day Mass at this, lone of the oldest churches in Sydney.
Apart from the regular parishioners, there were also relatives in the military or those who lost someone in World War 11, Korea or Vietnam or who have families or friends based overseas.
"I believe Remembrance Day should not only commemorate those in the military who gave their lives but also the wives and sweethearts who died of broken hearts following the loss of their loved ones - those who died during one of the many wars where Australians have fought over the past 150 years," he said.
Martin de Tours converted to Christianity when just ten and five years later was forced to become a Roman soldier and served in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelise.
There is a famous story during his days as a soldier when he came upon a poor man, almost naked and trembling with the cold of winter. Martin remember the words from the Gospel : "I was naked and you clothed Me."
With his sword Martin divided his and gave one part to the beggar.
Charity, purity and bravery distinguished the life of this soldier.
He was discharged from the army at 20 and later founded the first monastery in Gaul.
He was eventually made Bishop of Tours and became known as a miracle worker. He was also one of the first venerated saints who was not a martyr.