ANZAC Day: A Nation With PTSD?
Here in Australia, it can be easy for us to forget that we are involved in conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East. ANZAC Day reminds us that Australian men and women continue to put themselves at risk in the defence of peace and just governance. Debate rages about the morality of the conflict we find ourselves entangled in – whether it is a US-driven response to an economic opportunity, whether it is the naivete of the Australian Government that could not assert itself against its long-time and more powerful allies, whether there is even a more constructive, dare I say it, evolved way to resolve conflict as it occurs throughout our troubled world.
The “ANZAC Spirit” that it so often touted on ANZAC Day consists of such uniquely antipodean values as mateship, loyalty, larrikanism, fortitude, courage and self-sacrifice. However, it is also timely to remember that ANZAC Day marks the return of those who suffered years of regret, trauma, mental illness and breakdown as a result of conflict. Perhaps we are a nation trying so hard to say that something good came from something so bad, that we ennoble our soldiers with these core values because the reality is stark and brutal. The era of raising a glass to the glorious fallen hasn’t yet faded but we recognise that the generations that have followed the first ANZAC Day now live in a nation that has different core values – equality, fairness, freedom, acceptance, diversity, peacefulness.
Let the ANZAC Spirit in 2012 reflect our desire for world peace and mutual understanding between nations. In a world delineated by the politics of greed, let us by the voice of Christ that welcomes all, both friend and foe, that forgives the enemy and accepts the outcast, that confronts violence with love because hate can never triumph where genuine compassion thrives. Let us remember those whose lives have been destroyed by war and pray for their restoration.
Wednesday – 25th April.
A reading from ‘The Little flowers of Saint Francis’.
The great grace that God showed many times to the evangelical poor who abandoned the world for love of Christ was shown in Brother Bernard of Quintavalle who, after he had taken the habit of Saint Francis, was very frequently rapt in God through contemplation of heavenly things. Brother Bernard was so lifted up in spirit to this heavenly treasure, promised to lovers of God, that continually for fifteen years he always went about with his spirit and his face lifted towards heaven. And during that time he never relieved his hunger at table, though he ate a little of what was placed before him, because he said that we do not practice perfect abstinence from things if we do not taste them; true abstinence is refraining from things that taste good to the mouth. And with this he had come to such clarity and light of intelligence that even great clerics came to him for solutions to the most difficult questions and obscure passages of scripture; and he enlightened them on every difficulty. Because his spirit was entirely set free and removed from earthly things, like the swallows he flew very high through contemplation, and sometimes for twenty days, sometimes for thirty days, he remained alone on the peaks of high mountains, contemplating heavenly things. For this reason Brother Giles used to say about him that others had not received this gift, which had been given to Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, that is, like a swallow, finding food for himself while flying. And because of this outstanding grace that he had from God, Saint Francis often and willingly talked with him by day and by night, so that sometimes they were found together rapt in God the whole night long in the woods where both of them met to speak with God.
Eternal Lord God we pray for the peace of the world. Especially we commend to your mercy the homeless and refugees; those who have been dispossessed and have lost their employment; those whose families have been disrupted and who mourn the loss of loved ones. We pray for the situation in the Middle East and Africa. Grant that the sane and selfless councils may prevail in these places, and wherever there is warfare. For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen