|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leaving A Memorial
When I was a seminarian in my pastoral year, I was assigned to St. Mary’s in Los Gatos. It was a great year. One of the most memorable times of that year was my morning routine. After daily Mass, I would have breakfast with Fr. Justin, the pastor. We would sit, he with his cup of coffee and I with my cup of tea and we would chat on any subject for ages. It was always a deep conversation of faith. It would last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. It was probably the highlight of my entire formation as a priest; I had the opportunity to dialogue with a pastor of 27 years and the wisdom he was able to impart was just crucial to me.
Now I live alone and when I have breakfast and that cup of tea every day, I think of Fr. Justin. I think about those conversations that we had and I will often talk to God instead. Fr. Justin is still alive; he is not dead but he is retired and enjoying his retirement. It is amazing how that was like a memorial to the time that we spent to together.
Jesus left the disciples and us a memorial; it is called the Eucharist. He said, “Do this in memory of me.” He shared meals every day with his disciples. He met with them and he ate with them, broke bread and shared wine. On the very last night, he said, “Do this in memory of me.” And some 2000 years later, we are still doing it in memory of him. He promises that this is where we learn wisdom and we celebrate the presence of God in our midst. What we celebrate is so powerful that sometimes we forget the power of it.
We hear the Bread of Life Discourse in the gospel today. When Jesus says, “I am the flesh and I am the blood. Take of me and I will give you life”, he is referring to eternal life. That is what we do each time we have Eucharist. Yet it is much more than a memorial. When we come forward to receive communion, we are doing more than just saying yes to the memorial; when we come forward with open hands and humble heart, we say yes to become what we receive. We promise to become the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ broken for others. We promise to become the Blood of Christ poured out for others and that we will become what we receive.
Maybe you can consider if there is some routine in your life with your loved ones? That when we are gone, whether it is physically or whether we are eternally gone, that they will remember us and the faith that we shared. That might be something you do with your children, praying around the meal or it might be your morning breakfast together with your spouse, or a walk sharing deep moment of connection in faith. Find one thing that can be a memorial for you and your children; or you and your parents; or you and your spouse. This will be our memorial for each other and when we go, we will always know that this is what we did in memory of Christ.