22 April 2021

Faith Matters - ANZAC Day

Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

Faith Matters - ANZAC Day

This week we commemorate the service and sacrifice of many Australians over our nation’s history in the pursuit of peace and justice. On Thursday we will pause as a College to remember the love and service of others, how fortunate we are to live in a peaceful and secure country and pray for an end to war.

ANZAC Day is a solemn day in which we remember the sacrifices made on our behalf. It is not a day where we glorify war. In commemorating ANZAC Day we offer gratitude to those who gave up their youth, their health and even their lives so that today we can live in freedom and peace. Many Australian’s have relatives that have or currently do serve in our Defence Force. My family is relatively small yet we have had over a dozen of our relatives past and present who have served from Gallipoli to Afghanistan and Iraq, in war and in peace keeping roles in all arms of the ADF. This story is common, most families have experienced what service costs the individual and their loved ones.

ANZAC Day is extremely significant to our nation because against the odds, over and over again, our men and women have overcome every aggressor or nation that has sought to destroy and deny human dignity to the vulnerable. Our service men and women have in almost all cases, no matter how difficult the situation, carried out their mission with compassion and integrity. Even in war those who serve on our behalf have shown restraint and acted with honour which we can rightly admire.

The role of our Defence Force is not to pursue war. There is no glory found in killing our brothers and sisters no matter who they are or how evil their actions. There is no desire in our society to fight others or promote an image of strength to other nations. As a nation we seek to assist countries that are less able in defending their sovereignty and in times of need due to natural disasters.

Regardless of the service offered by our personnel there is price paid by each member. It may be life changing injuries, both physical or mental health, or strain on relationships within the family. Serving in the military means that for many every three years there is a new posting which impacts schooling for the children and employment for the spouse. There are months spent on training courses or operations which mean families are separated; in some cases contact is forbidden and families do not know until they return that they have been fighting overseas. During the recent COVID pandemic some soldiers separated from their families for months at a time even though they were less than ten kilometres from home. For our sailors deployments regularly last six to twelve months. On ANZAC Day we offer gratitude to those who serve in ways that cost more than we are personally able to sacrifice.

This year ANZAC Day falls during the first school week after Easter and I think there is a fitting link between the two. During Holy Week we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for all humanity and the hope, and new life we experience because of the resurrection. These themes are remembered again on ANZAC Day. We live as we do in this country because of the sacrifice of others. We know that no matter what adversity is faced our nation and its Defence Force will prevail and that justice and peace will reign. In assisting other nations in their time of need or in fighting an aggressor the service of our men and women protects others and brings new life and hope to their communities, and into the world.

As an Ignatian school we also reflect upon the life of St Ignatius of Loyola during this week. As a young man he glorified war and sought to be a great soldier. His vision as a young noble man was that of adventure and fighting. His sacrifice was in service of himself and his own ego and image. At Pamplona his desire to be a hero led to his life altering injuries. During his prolonged convalescence his desires were transformed and his purpose in life was made clear. Ignatius’ life story mirrors the experience of many service men and women. The injuries received or the experience of war make them more aware of the need to avoid warfare and the desire that others never need to enter into armed conflict. Often the greatest advocates for peace and dialogue are those who have experienced war first hand.

On Thursday as a community we will commemorate the service and sacrifice of the service men and women of the Australian Defence Force throughout our nation’s history. We especially remember the ultimate sacrifice made by our forebears and we honour the service and daily sacrifices made by those who serve today. We pray for those who have died because of war, especially the forgotten who lie in unmarked resting places that our merciful God has lovingly welcomed them home. We pray for a world where nations work together to build trust so that there is no need to prepare for war. We pray for a world where all people are treated with dignity, offered freedom and are assured justice. We pray for ourselves that we may be more merciful and compassionate each day and that our actions help bring about the Kingdom.

We are hope filled people of the resurrection who seek to build a world where “swords will be made into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks; where nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”. Amen and amen!

Yours in Christ,

Brendan Nicholls
  Liturgy Coordinator