From an address by Dr. Pence -- delivered Memorial Day 2008 -- on the grounds of the University of St. Thomas near a monument to John Ireland (the first and greatest archbishop of St. Paul):
"For the man whose statue we stand by and for the men whom we remember tonight, there was never any question that the culture of life and the culture of protection formed a seamless garment. They knew (even if we have forgotten) that the freedom to worship can only be secured if there is a willingness to protect. This campus has long fashioned Catholic men of both the priestly cloth and the soldier’s uniform. We do well to gather here. Let us remember what they never forgot. Because there is evil in the world, whatever is signified as precious or sacred will be attacked and degraded if there is no protection. To safeguard the veil of the temple… the ramparts of the city must be manned.
|Washington DC statue by Frederick Hart|
"We remember that before the apostles were emboldened by the Holy Spirit, they fled when Christ was first arrested. We also remember that when Christ died he entrusted His sacred mother to John and the other apostles for safekeeping. There is an old tradition in the Church that the apostles kept her in hiding until she died; and it is a dogma of the Church that her body knew no corruption as she was assumed into heaven. So let that icon burn into your memory – the ordered band of men, Peter and the apostles, gathered around the sacred beauty of Our Lady in protective order. Each of them except John would die a martyr’s death – but not Our Lady. Our Blessed Mother Mary who came into the world protected by the Father from any stain of sin or hold of Satan was protected in her last years by the apostolic fraternity. Christ did not leave Our Lady’s safety to chance. He did not leave her well-being to the good will of the high priests and soldiers who had tortured and murdered her son. He did not assume that Satan would disappear if everyone just acted like the Devil doesn’t exist. Christ left his mother in the protective care of the apostolic church… A culture of life must always be a culture of protection.
"A people are formed and reformed in their public acts of remembrance. This indeed was the commandment at Sinai which structured sacred time around a Sabbath—Remember keep holy the Sabbath day -- a day to be kept holy so a people might be kept whole. That commandment to sacralize time was not meant to be celebrated as a family barbecue or a long weekend… Holy days for both religious and civic communities are supposed to interrupt the flow of work! The holidays are holy days. They interrupt our daily routine to remind us that the fruits we enjoy are not created by the work of our hands but given by the grace of God and the sacrifice of our fathers.
"We set aside days -- special days because every day is not the same. We set aside sacred space because every space is not the same. We have different spaces and roles for men and women because in our differences there is the capacity to enter a sacred space where life is given. Our altars are set aside like the Holy Ground where Moses stood. Moses was told to remove his shoes because that ground was not the same as the rest of the ground.
"When we collapse our holy public days into family weekend fun, we lose the ability to make the distinctions of the sacred from the profane and the public from the private. It is just such distinctions which distinguish us as human beings.
"Every time we allow something sacred to be defiled and go unprotected, we lose a little more of our capacity as a community to exercise communal human emotions. We lose the capacity to mourn; we lose our capacity to be angry; we lose our ability to love in common.”