Memories Keep Relationships Alive

by | Aug 23, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Warning! This Vincentian Mindwalk may evoke memories and emotions!

Whose death affected you most? For some it will be a family member – mother, father, sister, brother, child, aunt, or uncle. It may have been a childhood friend, a mentor, anyone who impacted your life.

We have all experienced more than one such loss. A part of us died with this person. We cope with this loss in many ways.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk I invite you to explore some of the ways our memories help us understand Jesus asking us to “do this in memory of me.”

Keeping relationships alive

When someone has died have you ever…

  • Reread letters or viewed photographs?
  • Displayed their photo in a prominent place?
  • Treasured or carried some keepsake?
  • Done in their honor something they would do?
  • Talked with others who miss this person?
  • Visit places that remind you of them?
  • Visited where they are buried?

These are ways to forge continued connections to the life of the one we love and sustain a continuing bond. The list goes on and on. (See a list of 21 ways to keep someone’s memory alive.)

We seek to remember. We seek ‘continuing bonds’ rather than trying to ‘let go.’

Do this in memory of me

Jesus clearly understood our human need to continue relationships. He understood our need to be with someone who knows us as we are and continues to  love us.

Jesus was not just a teacher of an ethical way of life. He was the one who showed us what unconditional love is.  Jesus loves each and every one of us – then and now! When he laid down his life for us it was not to satisfy a demanding God but to show what unconditional love looked like.

Jesus’ love showed us how to transform the most horrendous of suffering, humiliation and death nailed to a cross. In his resurrection he showed us that for those who believe, life is not ended but changed. And, that “has not seen nor ear heard what the eternal fullness of life in God is.

There is no doubt that the relationship with Jesus transformed people. Feeling his love, they literally dropped their ”nets” to be with him… and wanted to be with him always. Yet they were slow to understand just how radical his love was. Jesus died to teach us that, just as he loved us and forgave us, he wanted us to love ourselves and one another.

So, he left us the ultimate memorial of a family gathered in celebration of love. He spelled out very explicitly that he wanted us to love with a “foot-washing” kind of love. “Do you understand what I have done?” Then love one another as I have loved you!

Catholics believe and pray at a funeral mass, “Life is changed not ended!” The Eucharist calls us to change our lives today.

Eucharistic renewal

The US Bishops have asked for a three year process of Eucharistic renewal last year. I am concerned that, in practice, it may focus too much on a merely intellectual assent to doctrine.

I hope we will make the connection with our innate desire to keep our relationship with Jesus alive in a new way.

For starters, I personally believe clergy might help by being better models of “praying” the Eucharist than “saying” Mass. And that will lead us all to pray what we say rather than merely say or listen to words. Eg. Let’s pray rather than just say/hear the words such as let these offerings become for us the Body of Christ.

Keeping Jesus’ memory alive…

  • Do I believe in the real love of Jesus for me and my sisters and brothers?
  • Have I ever “prayed” with the Eucharistic prayers ?
  • Can I model my life on the memory he left us when he us …“Do this in memory of me?”

(PS We could also think about how our not only our liturgies but also our shrines, relics and sacramentals keep his memory alive.)

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk