In the intimate setting of a daily Mass I heard the word and it reverberated within, piercing my soul and letting loose a gasp of gratitude: Memory. “Do this in memory of me…” Rooted in the Jewish concept of memorial as practiced at the Passover, it is a different kind of memory, the vivid recall of a past event made truly present and preserved for all eternity; a memory connecting God’s children in a collective consciousness. Paradoxically, it is a memory both immutable and alive.
We all have memories of events that changed everything about our lives and our world, from who we are to how we live. The birth of a child, 9/11… Upon hearing the words, how many of us can instantly recall the smallest details about where we were, whom we were with, what was said and done and how we felt when these momentous events occurred? In an instant the memory comes alive, making itself present to us in a different time and place.
Preserved within this kind of memory is a clarity of time and space that we invite others to participate in with our careful retelling. They are stories we are compelled to share, and instead of getting old they remain fresh in the retelling. Each time we participate in this kind of memory we grasp at something bigger than we can fully comprehend; each time we grow in understanding and awe in relationship to the event.
This is Catholic Memory. At each Mass the past sweeps us away like a swiftly moving current, transporting us to another time. Jesus didn’t come for a select few but for people of all ages. Two thousand years after He walked the earth He is just as present for us at the Mass today, and He remains every bit as much of an enigma as He did when He laid in a manger, died on the cross or rose from the dead.
God’s Word made flesh continues to encourage us to embrace Him, to follow Him and to share in His mission and mystery. Still He instructs, challenges, confounds and heals us. Still he nourishes us just as surely as He did when multiplied the loaves and the fishes, broke the bread at the Last Supper or walked to Emmaus where they came to know Him—in the breaking of the bread.
From the first yes uttered by Mary, a stream of disciples proceeds through history, gathering together all of the Saints who ever lived—Re-membering the Body of Christ. Together they sweep us away with the story they tell of an infinite God who humbled himself to enter His creation by putting on flesh, a God who loves us so much that He would pour out every ounce of his body and blood to sanctify all of creation, reconciling us once and for all with Himself. A God who lives!
Participate in the Mass and Remember!