Remembrance and Memorial

The whole Church is present at the Mass, where Heaven and Earth meet. (I don’t know where this image comes from, it’s all over the web with some variations.)

Today was Memorial Day. Too often we hear words without really hearing them. We think “memorial” has to do with simple memory, as when we remember to call a friend or we remember to pick up dog food on the way home from work. But there is a deeper meaning. In the Bible the word is used in this deeper way, in a technical sense. I suppose one disadvantage to reading the Bible in the vernacular (which is the only way I can read it) is that we take for granted that we understand it when all we grasp is the surface, most often not suspecting that there is anything deeper.

In the Greek the word is anamnesis, in the Hebrew it’s zikaron. And both of these are used of ritual memorial sacrifices, not mere calling to mind of something but the re-enactment that makes the event present to the one acting and remembering. The Hebrew Passover is not merely remembering what happened long ago but a participation in it, a being made present to it along with those who have gone before: all of those who took part in the first Passover and all of those who have taken part in it ever since.

The same is true for the sacrifice of the Mass. We don’t sacrifice Jesus again. It is He Himself, the Eternal High Priest, Who offers Himself to the Father eternally, once for all, once for all time, in an act that reaches back to the first sacrifice on the Cross, and forward to the end of time. In the Mass it is Jesus Himself Who offers Himself, the priest acting in persona Christi, not for himself but for Christ, Christ acting through him. 

The Mass of St. Gregory the Great, by Adriaen Ysenbrandt. From Wikimedia, public domain.

In this great memorial the Creator and King of the Universe—by Whom and through Whom all things were created—offers Himself to God the Father, and allows us to participate in His sacrifice, and this takes place every day of every week of every month of every year. The True Memorial Day takes place every day and there is nothing everyday about it.

Thank you for reading. The Something About Mary Every Day In May series will pick back up tomorrow. God bless you and may His peace be always with you.

Notes and Links

Even though I didn’t actually use these books to write this short post, I have read The Lamb’s Supper a few times over the years and it played a large part in forming my thoughts on the Eucharist. I’ve only begun to read the Jewish Roots but I already know it’s going to be important for my studies.

I looked up one thing in a catechesis given by Pope Benedict XVI to make sure I was right in saying that Jesus offers Himself to the Father until the end of time. No, I didn’t know to look for it there, I found it by doing a web search. Link below.

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