Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Remebering those who live in Christ (Feast of All Souls)

Memory makes persons and events in our past seem to come alive. Memory works so powerfully, especially in dreams when the image of the person we’re remembering is so vivid, that when we wake up, we sometimes find ourselves wishing we never did.

I remember going to the funeral of a friend’s father in Cleveland in 2000 and meeting his mom. Rick and Cynthia were a remarkable couple. Married for 48 years, they were childhood friends, next-door neighbors, grade school, high school and college classmates. And now, she said, the love of her life was gone.

Cynthia said she dreamt of her husband so many times after he died, that when she’d wake up and open her eyes, she would wonder for a couple of seconds if waking up was the dream and dreaming was the reality. Her memory of her husband was so strong and powerful, it seemed to reverse dreaming and waking for her.

Memory connects us so vividly and powerfully, that the person we remember really seems to be alive. They seem to be there, present to us.

Today’s Feast of All Souls tells us to take that “seems” away from our sentence, because the persons we remember don’t only “seem” to be alive. They are alive, and not only in our memories or dreams.

As Catholics, the model for this belief and for today’s commemoration is the Eucharist where our memory doesn’t only make Christ seem to be present among us, but really present in our midst. He isn’t just seemingly here, but actually here. And we don’t even need to be dreaming to experience it.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will never die”.

Today’s feast, and the Eucharist we now celebrate, binds us together, we the living, and our beloved departed, who are not dead, but are alive in God, awaiting the day when we shall no longer meet them in our memories and dreams, but in reality.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)