Do this in remembrance of me.
We feel offended or diminished if we meet someone we know and they don’t remember who we are. To have significant days or events in our lives remembered by those whose affection or opinion we value means a lot to the sense of our own worth.
Yet remembering in a positive way – affirming we are still there and that the important things in life have not finally sunk out of remembrance under the waves of time – requires effort.
‘Thank you for remembering’, we say because the natural lethargy of egoism makes it easier to forget. Negative remembering – hanging on to past hurts and dead actions – is easier although sometimes we can feel a twinge of regret that even a negative memory is fading from our minds.
The Greek word that we translate as ‘remembrance’ and use to speak of the ‘memorial of the Eucharist’ is not just about remembering what we might (and one day probably will) forget as our brain cells run out. It means making present an event that had a historical beginning but whose life and influence has not yet expired.
Because we forget so much so quickly – what happened two days ago in a twenty-four hour period? – the things that ride the waves of time and do not disappear are the significant and life-enhancing forces. It requires effort and time to recall them but then we are called to life by their becoming present.
The gift of self never dies. It is ever present and can be called to mind at any time in order to renew and reassure us that life, for all its fatalities, is not just about survival. It is about flourishing, fullness.
This is what the Eucharist is. Despite the fact that it has been ringed round by rules and regulations and the politics of religion, its life-enhancing energies never cease to amaze. It is a channel of the endless generosity of one who cannot forget us.
Laurence Freeman OSB