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Monday, December 7, 2009


It is the season of Advent in the Church, and we are called to consider the waiting period of Mary, Joseph and the whole world for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

My thought is a simple one.

The word "anamnesis" is used by Plato for "recollection" or "remembrance." For the Christian, this word takes on new meaning in light of Christ's words in the Gospels, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me" (Lk. 22:17). Every celebration of the Eucharist is a remembering of Christ's sacrifice and the salvation offered to all mankind through his Body and Blood in the Church.

This is, perhaps, obvious. But to draw the idea a bit further, consider how memory is ever present with us. Day by day, every instance and occurance continues and builds within you. You cannot eradicate anything that has passed by, for time does not obey our wills. So as we grow and develop, especially cognitively speaking, that which we remember becomes more a more a part of our being.

We will find ourselves recollecting fond memories as we grow older, revisiting times and places that hold special significance. In particular, we hold fast to memories of people when they are not able to be present to us in the immediate time.

In practicality, I find my mind lingering on childhood fun, on words and moments my parents had with me, on periods of intense joy with friends and on many moments of immense challenge or change in my life. My mission trips to Ethiopia and Jamaica, my time spent living in Gaming, Austria, my time working in New York last year, my friends who I loved so dearly in college but who I have not kept in touch with... these memories allow me to revisit my old feelings, the lasting impression of those moments, but also to renew the feelings in the here and now, to reassure myself of the reality of those times, places and people.

Specifically love. This is the hallmark of what I am considering. When I was dating someone who lived states away, there were certainly times that I felt I must be making up the reality of the relationship. Likewise, when my closest friends live states away, there are times when communication on the phone or through messages just isn't enough to provide clear and concrete evidence of their affection and love.

This is the epitome of what Christ is inferring when he says that we must remember him. It is more than we can really articulate, because it happens in the part of the mind that is not really controllable by our intellect. There is a memory of his love that is stamped into our souls, a memory that lasts beyond all intelligence, because it was created when we were created. Cognitively, we were not aware of God's love in an intelligible way until we were five, six, seven years old. But in our essences we have known him from the time his hands were fashioning us out of nothing. We cannot call ourselves forth, nor create ourselves. We exist, we are, and that is all. No matter how hard we try, there is no possible way for us to will ourselves into being. As such, there is this imprint that holds us.

We remember what is lasting and deep, and this aids us in transending from what we cannot see with our physical eyes to what we must know with our hearts. No, we may not be able to be held in Christ's arms and feel the safety and peace and joy of his love. Yet, in our memory it is so, and as we remember his love it is made real and present to us.

This is what I believe our season of Advent is meant to be. Memory made alive in our hearts. Who he is, and what he has said, and what he has done. The God of the world made human, the mystery of the Incarnation, the joy of the Nativity, the Word of God, the Lamb of God, alive in the womb of Mary and now given to us in the flesh through the Eucharist.

So let us remember who Jesus is. Let us meditate on his words in Scripture, on his holy life and the miracles and teachings he gave. Let us also allow him to bring up his memory in our hearts - to reveal to us the many times he has been with us in this life, most especially when it would seem that he has not. Let us seek to deepen the foundation of faith, with every opportunity of being united with him, body, blood, soul and divinity. Let our anamnesis lead us to strong conviction of the love he has for us. His love has been eternal and will forever be. So memory spans all time and will forever go on. We cannot forget that he is always present and will be with us forever.