On the 11th of November in many parts of the world, people gather to pay tribute to those who laid down their lives in World Wars. As a Catholic University, this is also something we do each year. It is a meaningful exchange of gratitude, honour and prayer that calls us to remember the sacrifice that has given us freedom.

Life is busy for all of us. Very rarely do most of us stop to reflect, to be still, to take moments of silence and to remember. When I stop to reflect on the word ‘sacrifice’, as a Christian, I cannot help but think of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for my sake.

On this day each year, the world stops to remember lives lost in war by those who willingly chose to fight for our freedom. We stop because we are grateful. We stop because it is important to remember, lest we forget.

We stop because without stopping, we tend to take for it granted.

In the same way, as Christians, we take moments to stop and remember the gift of freedom we have received in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. Without stopping, we may take for granted the gift of salvation. Without stopping, we may forget. Without stopping, we will rarely express gratitude.

In my life, do I stop in the chaos to remember the blessings and the sacrifices made for me? Do I stop to recall what God has done in my life; where I was and where I am now? Do I stop to look my three beautiful little children in the eyes and thank God for the gift of being a mother? Do I stop to remember ‘why’ I choose to sacrifice for them? Do I take moments to slow down, take my husband by the hand and thank him for his sacrifice and for the gift he is to me and to our kids?

The language I use here is similar and whilst the gravity of the sacrifice may not seem comparable to laying down one’s life ‘to death’, I think it is important to take moments like these, to apply and contextualise such themes and what they mean for our daily lives.

Sacrifice. Thanksgiving. Stillness. Honour. Gratitude. Remembrance.

As Catholics, when we celebrate Eucharist, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and we give thanks. In fact, the word Eucharist itself means, ‘to give thanks’. When we take time to reflect, remember and honour what we have received, we live our lives in a spirit of gratitude.

It is easy to get lost in all of life’s distractions. Without the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month each year, would we remember their sacrifice and our gift of freedom? Without Eucharist, would we take for granted our salvation? Without moments of stillness in my chaotic busy life, would my home and my family live in a spirit of gratitude, thanksgiving and honour?

Let us remember, honour and give thanks; lest we forget.

BIO: Gabrielle Fernandes is the Student Campus Pastoral Associate on McAuley at Banyo Campus, Brisbane. She has a great passion for using her musical gifts to worship and glorify God, along with her husband Steve and her three young children, Noah, Grace and Elijah.

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