It is almost 10:00 PM. My day is usually over with by this time. However, today I find myself blogging at this unfamiliar hour having come home from celebrating the Mass of the Lord's Supper at a residence for elderly and infirm people in the suburbs. As I was sitting at the back of the chapel waiting for the celebration to begin, I overheard someone mention that they had seen video of the Holy Father's celebration in Rome and that it had brought them to tears. The Holy Father and I had something in common today. We both celebrated Holy Thursday with elderly and infirm people.
As I listened to the readings during the Mass, it struck me once again that memory is so important to our understanding of the Eucharist. We remember what God has done for us. Our Jewish brothers and sisters gathered around their family tables a few days ago and remembered what God had done for them on that first Passover. By remembering it, they make it present for those who are gathered together for the celebration. Because it is part of their present, they can participate in an event that took place so many years ago. Of course, the same is true for Catholic Christians. By remembering what Jesus did on Passover, we make it present again, truly present in the form of bread and wine. Because the Eucharist is part of our present, we can participate in the event that we call the Last Supper. Jesus is with us, truly present in our midst, all because we remember what God has done for us.
It struck me as I pondered this that memory is not the long suit of elderly people. Just the other day, a confrere and I were sitting at the breakfast table telling stories. Neither of us could remember the names of those who were part of the stories. We could, however, remember the story. Our memories were not perfect, but we remembered enough to make the stories come alive again. Being in the midst of people who have difficulty remembering made this evening special for me. Despite the fact that many of them could not remember much of what happened that day, they were gathered around the table of the Lord with me to remember what God had done for us. Indeed, God has been good to us. God has loved us with a wondrous love. We remember, we celebrate, we believe.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator