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2024 Memorial Mass: Serving Others Together

Observed in honor of those who died in military service for the United States, Memorial Day reminds us of the beauty of self-sacrifice, particularly in laying down one’s life for the sake of others. On May 19, 2024, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, hosted its annual Pilgrimage and Memorial Mass at the Basilica, remembering those who died and reflecting on their service and sacrifice.

U.S. service members post the colors at the 2024 Memorial Mass at the National Shrine

As we observe Memorial Day on May 27, we hope you’ll take a moment to meditate upon highlights from this Mass and the homily given by Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, USA.

Service Over Self

The Mass began with an honor guard of the Knights of Columbus, the posting of colors with representatives from every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the singing of the National Anthem. In his homily, Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, USA, discussed how the military and the Church share the common goal of serving others, reminding the faithful that we are called to use our talents to further God’s kingdom here on earth.

“There is a certain abandonment of self in order to achieve a higher good. Now, for more than two centuries, service over self has characterized those who serve and lead in our armed forces. We see that in the community of faith, where each person draws upon his or her talents to build up the body of Christ. We recognize how important each member is… that we all work together to proclaim Christ to a world hungry for His touch.”

One In Christ

Drawing inspiration from the mosaic depiction of Jesus in the Great Upper Church, he discussed how the Church is a body made up of many individual members, each of whom has an important role to play.

“In an effective mosaic, all of the small pieces of stone fit together to create a unit… Look at the magnificent mosaics that decorate this Basilica. Thousands, or perhaps millions of tiles, artistically colored are arranged to convey an image, a message… That reminds us of the many who share the same faith and work together to form the body of Christ, or the many who contribute to the defense of the nation – the protection of the weak, or defense against wanton aggression…


The faithful attend the 2024 Memorial Mass

It is good to remember the image of a mosaic when tensions rise, we disagree, and we find ourselves in opposition… It is good to remember that the first gift of the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism actually began eternal life for us. The rest of our earthly pilgrimage leads us to the fullness of that life. Perhaps if we considered more often that we have already taken the first steps in eternity, our outlook on the world might be modified, and we might build up the signs of the presence of that kingdom. We might recognize the dignity of the other pieces of the mosaic and see them as part of our journey to that fullness.”

Our Prayer for the Military Community

At the end of his homily, Archbishop Broglio called upon the faithful to pray for those in the United States Armed Forces and their families:

“This evening, we pray… [for] those left behind: gold-star families, spouses, and others, who suffered a loss. While death is the threshold to life without end, it still leaves us orphans or deprives us of the companionship of a spouse, brother, sister, or friend. In Christian fellowship, at this perfect prayer, we also want to offer sympathy and comfort to those who mourn.


 A serviceman prays during the 2024 Memorial Mass

So also, in recognizing sacrifice for good, we hold up to the healing Lord, those who still pay the price for their service in bodies racked by pain, or limited in movement or in mind and spirit, still weakened by depression, fatigue, the effects of trauma or the memories of shattering experiences. In our prayer and outreach, we want to remind them that they are not alone, but rather a part of this large family of faith… In our prayer today, we want to offer hope to those who experience the difficult effects of their service to us and beg for them the comfort they need.


As members and friends of the global Archdiocese, that served those who serve, we know firsthand what war means and costs in human terms. And so, we cannot gather without an earnest and fervent prayer for peace. War and disorder rage in Ukraine, in the Holy Land, in Africa, in Haiti, and elsewhere. Like the abundant incense we use, let our intense prayers for peace and an end to suffering, rise to the throne of grace. May the Lord God hear and answer us.”

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