By Kathy Horan
As we move through the month of November we are conscious that this year is coming to closure, and we are also in the process of looking ahead to plan and prepare for the coming year.
November is a special month for remembering, reflecting on the events of the year and their significance. It is also a time for calling to mind and celebrating the people and events that are important and provide deep meaning for us. As we approach the end of the year, we celebrate the feast of All Saints and All Souls, reminders that we continue to be linked in our faith in the communion of saints.
Themes relating to memory, the act of remembering, and celebrating important memorials are part of our everyday life experiences, usually accompanied by some simple ritual expression – and sometimes by a more formal celebration or acknowledgement of an event or people of significance in our lives. We find it difficult to cope with a dimming of memory, or loss of memory, in ourselves or loved ones. Our memories can bring sadness or joy, hope for the future and sorrow for things past, but they are highly important to all of us. People dear to us who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith are remembered often in our prayer, and at times with a memorial Mass. We also remember with joy those we have loved dearly, and the memories of their impact on our lives is something to treasure and give thanks for.
For the Christian community, the celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of our religious experience: the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. This means that our lives in faith are caught up in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
As baptised people of faith in the risen Lord, we are caught up in this mystery and each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist we are bringing into the present the memorial sacrifice of Jesus, foretold at the Last Supper and played out over the events that followed on Good Friday. An ancient prayer of the Church brings together the past, the present and the future when it describes Eucharist as:
‘a sacred banquet, in which
Christ is received,
the memory of his passion
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory
is given to us.’
Throughout the liturgical year, we move through the various seasons reflecting on the life and mission of Jesus and modelling our lives on his as his disciples. We are caught up in his mission of announcing and being good news to all, with a particular regard for the least advantaged. We take time to ponder the Word of God as a community of people who are attuned to listening to the Word and letting it shape our Christian response to the Lord.
Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are reminded that we receive Christ into our lives as food and nourishment and we thus become the body of Christ for the world, called to share our lives generously and with glad hearts.
This is what it means when we remember that Jesus said at the last supper, ‘Do this in memory of me’. The act of celebrating the Eucharist is to remember in the present the last supper and what Jesus did before urging his disciples to do the same.
It also calls us into a space where we actively call to mind and remember, making real in the present, our understanding and appreciation of what God has done for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. From this experience we hold close to our hearts the memory of Jesus and his mission, we bring this into our present, and we look forward with hope for our future as missionary disciples of Jesus.