A Special Anzac Day - 19th April 2015

Next Saturday is Anzac Day and celebrations this year have special significance as it is the one hundredth anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.

Anzac Day is a deep and complex event in the Australian psyche. Civic rituals and prayers occur in every town and suburb in the land. Anzac Day carries multiple overtones. It is

• a martyr’s day when we commemorate the sacrifice of the fallen and honour those who gave their life that we might live
• a commemoration of the dead when we commend those who have died in war to the Lord, especially members of our own families
• a prayer for peace, because all war is horrible no matter what heroism it reveals
• a day of national identity, an Australian “coming of age”
• a story of victory in defeat and survival in the face of overwhelming odds.

One cannot but be impressed by the Easter symbolism permeating all these interwoven themes of Anzac Day which almost always occurs during Easter Time. It is deeply moving to recognise that at the heart of the Australian psyche is the mystery which we understand to be paschal, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These themes, nuances and mood are reflected in the special texts provided for Mass on Anzac Day:

Entrance Antiphon
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
Let them rest from their labours,
for their good deeds go with them.

Almighty everlasting God,
who sent your Son to die that we might live,
grant, we pray, eternal rest to those who gave themselves
in service and sacrifice for their country.

Prayer over the Offerings
Grant, O heavenly Father,
that the sacrifice of Christ, who laid down his life for his friends,
may raise all those who have died in war to the victory of eternal life.

Communion Antiphon
Greater love has no one
than to lay down his life for his friends, says the Lord.

Prayer after Communion
By our communion with this Sacrament, O Lord,
grant us, we pray, fortitude in the cause of right,
and may our remembrance of those who have died in war
make us ardent defenders of your peace.

These texts will of course be used only at Masses held in the morning of 25th April to mark Anzac Day. Those scheduled for the late afternoon/evening on Saturday (often inaccurately referred to as “Vigils”) are actually Sunday Masses and on Saturday 25th will celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Elizabeth Harrington