Gettysburg Battlefield Mass: July 21, 2001
(Reprinted from Workers of Saint Joseph News)
GETTYSBURG, PA -- A record crowd attended the annual commemorative Mass for the soldiers who participated in the epic Civil War battle at Gettysburg. The event, sponsored by the Workers of Saint Joseph, was held on July 21, 2001 on the battlefield at the statue of Father William Corby, C.S.C., who gave absolution to the soldiers and later became President of Notre Dame.
Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw Padewsky of Lviv in the Archdiocese of Ukraine said the Mass in Latin, with Workers of Saint Joseph Chaplain Father Christopher Rengers, O.F.M.Cap., concelebrating.
Bishop Padewsky brought greetings from the Ukrainian Catholics, whose faith was deepened by the recent pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to their country. Bishop Padewsky knew the Pope from his days in Poland before he ascended to the papacy.
The Bishop urged us to not only consider history as a horizontal line in a time sequence, but to see our lives in a vertical dimension from the depths of our hearts upward to Our Lord. This understanding, he said, will enable us to return to the most meaningful happening in all history, which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ after all Cavalry’s dramatic events. "Because of this," he continued, "the liturgy of the Holy Mass which takes place here glorifies the death of Jesus and His resurrection."
In light of this sublime mystery, "we look at the death of the soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg full of faith, hope and love," the Bishop concluded.
Father Christopher , noting that the Mass was being celebrated on the feast day of Saint Laurence of Brindisi, recalled the famous exploit of the saint in 1601. After giving a rousing address, he rode before the troops armed only with a crucifix. The ensuing victory, despite overwhelming odds, is credited with saving European Christianity from the invading Turks.
Many Civil War buffs who were visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield were attracted to the event and joined the crowd of nearly 100 who received Holy Communion.