8th November, 2020

Fr Kentigern's Homily for Remembrance Sunday

Ampleforth Abbey



On behalf of Fr Abbot and the Monastic Community, I welcome all who are joining us for this celebration of Mass today.

As it is Remembrance Sunday we are celebrating a Requiem Mass for all those who have died in conflicts down through the years, and especially those killed in the two World Wars.

They died that we might enjoy freedom, but we do not always live up to their legacy.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate these sacred mysteries…


This famous Gospel Parable (of the wise and foolish bridesmaids [Matthew 25: 1 – 13]) challenges us to be prepared and ready to welcome Christ, even at the darkest hour. Today, I can’t help but read it in the context of the many archive images of hundreds and thousands of young men, full of bravado, marching off to war (particularly the images of the First World War). While it would be wrong to call them foolish, they were certainly totally unprepared for the horrors they would experience in the mud of the trenches and elsewhere.

For some, in the depth of that darkness they found Christ, but the great tragedy is that so many more lost God.

As we remember them today we do so in the context of St Paul’s words in our second reading (1 Thessalonians 4: 13 – 18), words of hope.

Jesus’ death and resurrection, made real and present to us at the altar each time we celebrate the Eucharist, leads to our resurrection too. The last trumpet is a bugle call – not to “go over the top” but to rise up and enter eternal life.

And for me, the opening words of our first reading (Wisdom 6: 12 – 16) speaking of the brightness of Wisdom bring to mind the words of the famous epitaph which will be spoken at so many memorials today and on Wednesday

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We shall remember them.

Today, we pray earnestly, as we remember those who fought and died, that we will be filled with the brightness of wisdom to avoid such devastating conflict and instead be ready to welcome Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Fr Kentigern