“… they wish it need not have happened” – Remembrance Sunday in St Patrick’s Cathedral
President Michael D Higgins and Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy attended a Service of Choral Evensong to mark Remembrance Sunday in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, yesterday afternoon (October 13).
The service, which was led by Dean William Morton and sung by the Cathedral Choir, was also attended by representatives of Dail Eireann and the diplomatic corps along with representatives of the judiciary and the defence forces. Much of the congregation was made up of members of the RBL Republic of Ireland.
Following the Exhortation, wreaths were laid at the war memorial in the cathedral by the President and Lieutenant Colonel Ken Martin, District President of RBL Republic of Ireland. The lessons were read by Mrs Joan Bruton BEM and the Ambassador of Ukraine HE Gerasko Larysa.
The preacher was Canon David Oxley who took his text from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ by JRR Tolkien: “I wish it need not have happened in my time”, said Frodo. “So do I”, said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”.
He said that the congregation had gathered to remember and honour those whose lives were given away and taken away in two world wars. “We do so, knowing that as we listen and pray, the people of Ukraine are enduring the bitter experience of invasion, of conflict, of devastation. Doubtless they wish it need not have happened, this pointless and unjust war. But they have stood up to do what the times demand of them, to defend their country and protect their people. And in President Zelensky they have found an unexpected but inspiring leader,” he stated.
Canon Oxley explained that Lord of the Rings presented two competing ideas about power. The first is the power that sought to dominate, to control and it tended to destroy.
“Tolkien is quite clear–sighted about the impact of domination upon ecology. Saruman’s wanton felling of trees; the utter desolation of the barren ash–heaps of Mordor; the pollution of the Shire when the hobbits return – all vivid images of the tight link between devastation and domination. One of the aspects of the current conflict that affects me most is the attacks on infrastructure, on the power stations, that threat a while back to destroy a major dam. I’m sure that morally the deaths of the many innocent should hit harder, but there is something chilling about this deliberate and wanton destruction, that will cause so much suffering, and take so long to rebuild,” he said.
The other idea about power is that which is dedicated to heal, to repair, to protect and to nurture, the preacher stated. He said that the Elves, Gandalf and Sam Gangee had it. He suggested that the way to this power was the refusal of the domination represented by the evil Ring. Frodo became an embodiment of courage, humility, and self–sacrifice. His suffering freed Middle–Earth from its enemy, although there was no healing for him this side of heaven, Canon Oxley pointed out.
Referring to the Old Testament reading [Micah 4: 1–5] he said that the words about “turning swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning–hooks” represented a “basic either/or choice: we can opt for flourishing and fertility, or we can opt for devastation. Micah’s vision of all the nations walking together in pursuit of justice and righteousness remains both relevant and urgent.”.