Recently I was part of a family Zoom call to celebrate my Sister’s 70th birthday. As you might imagine, there was a lot of bantering and catching up before everyone chimed in with the Happy-Birthday. The richest moments, however, came the next day when reading the follow-up emails. Tapping into the joy of the party, they had blossomed into fuller-bodied appreciations of what had gone on. This was the kind of remembering that triggers off deeper awareness of what had already happened.
The two disciples on the Emmaus road who had invited in the fascinating stranger knew something of this experience. It was only after he left that they recalled how their hearts had burned as he opened the Scriptures. The memory of their encounter acted as an over-spilling fountain, letting them drink in the deeper import of what had happened. Unpacking this memory later, the enthusiasm and excitement in their voices unlocked still more meaning for the community gathered there.
This “remembering” is a process reaching through the centuries as Jesus’ followers bring to mind and heart his words and actions, especially his death and resurrection. Much more than a simple recall of past events, this hearkening back releases the fuller significance of what really happened then. As with the Emmaus disciples, it transports the surplus energy and meaning of their experience into the present time. It’s memory as revelation.
While not as central to faith as The Lord’s “doing this in remembrance of Me,” the recollecting we Vincentians do has its own way of bringing past graces into the now. Attentive reading of Vincent’s life and words, and imaginative recall of Louise and Frederick’s ministries can unlock fresh perspectives for our times. All three possessed hearts on fire for the sake of God’s poor. Dipping back into their writings and biographies can ignite fruitful realizations for today and spark creative new approaches.
This kind of fertile remembering allows light from the past to shine on the challenges of the present.