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24 August, 20

The Eucharist, memorial of the heart

On other occasions, we have alluded to a story that Joseph Ratzinger tells in his meditations of the 1980s. Let's do it again.

A man had lost the "memory of the heart". That is to say, "he had lost the entire chain of feelings and thoughts that he had treasured in the encounter with the human pain". Why did this happen and what were the consequences? "Such a disappearance of the memory of love had been offered to him as a release from the burden of the past.

But it soon became clear that the man had thereby changed: the encounter with pain no longer awakened in him memories of goodness. With the loss of memory the source of goodness within him had also disappeared. He had become cold and emanated coldness around him".

This story comes in handy in connection with Pope Francis' preaching on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (June 14, 2020).

 

 

Memory and feelings

Memory is something important for all people. The Pope observes in his homily on this feast: "If we do not remember (...), we become strangers to ourselves, 'transients' of existence. Without memory we are uprooted from the ground that sustains us and are carried away like leaves in the wind. On the other hand, making memory is to tie oneself to stronger ties, to feel part of a history, to breathe with a people".

And that is why Sacred Scripture insists that educating young people in this "memory" or remembrance of the traditions and history of the people of Israel, especially of the commands and gifts of the Lord (cf. Ps 77 12; Dt 6:20-22).

Problems arise if - as is now happening with the transmission of the Christian faith - it is interrupted or if what it hears about has not been experienced, the memory of individuals and peoples is put at risk.

The Lord left us a "memorial". Not just something to remember, to bring to mind. Not just some words or some symbols. He gave us a food that is continually efficacious, the living Bread that is Himself: the Eucharist. And he gave it to us as "done", because he commissioned us to "make it", celebrate it as a people and as a family: "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:24). The Eucharist, Francis points out, is the memorial of God.

Indeed, the Eucharist is "memory," a living memory or memorial that renews (or "actualizes" without repeating it) the Lord's Passover, his death and resurrection, among us. It is the memory of our faith, of our hope, of our love.

The Eucharist is a memorial of all that we are, a memorial, one might also say, of the heart, giving this last term its biblical meaning: the totality of the person. A man is worth what his heart is worth and this includes - as in the story told by Cardinal Ratzinger - the capacity for goodness and compassionThe Christian's feelings are becoming identified with the feelings of Christ Himself.

The Eucharist, memorial of the heart, heals, preserves and strengthens the whole person of the Christian. And for this reason, as the Churchthe Eucharist is the source and culmination of the Christian life and the mission of the Church (cf. Benedict XVI, Exhort. Sacramentum caritatis, 2007).

On the solemnity of the Corpus ChristiFrancis has been unraveling the healing power of this "memorial" that is the Eucharist. And with it he shows us the importance of the Eucharist for the configuration of our feelings towards God and others.

On this also depends what we could call affective education -which never ends in each person- and the affective connection with God and with others: knowing how to "situate" ourselves before others - our relatives and friends, our colleagues and co-workers, the people we meet every day.

The inner "taking charge" of what happens to them, in order to know how to communicate and to express our feelings appropriately, integrating them into our decisions and activities, as an important part of the attractiveness that is inherent to the Christian life. The Eucharist thus occupies a central place in relation to the discernmentWe are committed to the spiritual and ecclesial aspects of all our actions.

The healing power of the Eucharist on memory

The Eucharist heals the orphaned memory and heals its wounds. That is, "the memory wounded by the lack of affection and the bitter disappointments received from the one who should have given love but instead left the heart desolate". The Eucharist infuses us with a greater love, the love of God Himself.. So says the Pope:

"The Eucharist brings us the faithful love of the Father, who heals our orphanhood. It gives us the love of JesusHe transformed a tomb from a point of arrival into a point of departure, and in the same way he can change our lives. He communicates to us the love of the Holy Spirit, who consoles, because he never leaves anyone alone, and heals wounds".

Secondly, the Eucharist heals our negative memory. That "memory" that "always brings to the surface the things that are wrong and leaves us with the sad idea that we are good for nothing, that we only make mistakes, that we are wrong". And it always puts our problems, our falls, our broken dreams in front of us.

Jesus comes to tell us that this is not so. That we are valuable to himwho always sees the good and the beautiful in us, who desires our company and our love. "The Lord knows that evil and sins are not our identity; they are diseases, infections. And - with good examples in this pandemic periodThe Pope explains how the Eucharist "heals" them - it comes to cure them with the Eucharist, which contains the antibodies for our memory sick with negativity. With Jesus we can immunize ourselves from sadness. And that is why the power of the Eucharist - when we try to receive it with the best dispositions, so that it bears all its fruits in us - transforms us into bearers of God, which is the same as saying: bearers of joy.

Third, the Eucharist heals our closed memory. Life often leaves us wounded. And it makes us fearful and suspicious, cynical or indifferent, arrogant..., selfish. All this, observes the successor of Pedrois a deception, for only love heals the fear of root and frees us from the obstinations that imprison us". Jesus comes to free us from those armors, inner blockages and paralysis of the heart.

"The Lord, who offers himself to us in the simplicity of bread, also invites us not to waste our lives seeking a thousand useless things that create dependence and leave our interior empty. The Eucharist removes in us the hunger for things and kindles in us the desire to serve". It helps us to stand up to help others who are hungry for food, dignity and work. It invites us to establish authentic chains of solidarity.

The Eucharist heals our orphaned and wounded memory, our negative memory and our closed memory. To this Francis adds, in his Angelus address on the same day, June 14, the explanation of the two effects of the Eucharist: the mystical effect and the communitarian effect.

Mystical effect and community effect

The mystical effect (mystical in relation to the profound mystery that takes place there) refers to that healing of our "wounded memory" of which he spoke in his homily. The Eucharist heals us and transforms us interiorly through our intimacy with Jesus; for what we take, under the appearance of bread or wine, is nothing less than the body and blood of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17).

Jesus - the Pope explains once again - is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist to be our nourishment, to be assimilated and to become in us that renewing force that gives us back our energy and gives us back the desire to get back on track after every pause or after every fall".

At the same time, he points out what our dispositions must be like for all this to be possible; above all, "our willingness to let ourselves be transformed, our way of thinking and acting".

This is so, and this will is manifested in approaching the Eucharist with a conscience free of grave sin (having previously attended the sacrament of Penance, if necessary), in let us help by those who can do it to form our conscience, to rectify our desires, to orient our activities in the right direction according to our circumstances, so that our life may have a true sense of love and service.

For all these reasons, Francisco points out, the Mass is not simply a social or respectful act, but empty of content. It is "Jesus present who comes to feed us".

All of this is linked to the communitarian effect of the Eucharist, which is its ultimate purpose, as expressed in the following words: "The Eucharist is the Eucharist of God. St. PaulFor though we are many, we are one bread and one body" (Ibid., v. 17). That is, to make of his disciples a community, a family that overcomes rivalries and envy, prejudices and divisions. By giving us the gift of brotherly love we can achieve what he also asked of us: "Abide in my love" (Jn 15:9).

In this way," concludes Francisco, "it is not only that the Church The Eucharist "makes" the Eucharist; but also and finally the Eucharist makes the Church, as a "mystery of communion" for her mission. A mission that begins precisely by producing and increasing our unity. Thus it is, and thus the Church can be the seed of unity, peace and transformation of the whole world.

Mr. Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Faculty of Theology
University of Navarra

Published in "Church and new evangelization".

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