The grace that comes from remembering

I have to admit, my memory isn’t very good.

It’s not that I don’t listen (although my husband, perhaps, would take issue with that statement), it’s just that I simply don’t retain easily or naturally.

I have a lot of workarounds to this: list after list after list, journals full of entries recounting trips and holidays and major life events, post-it notes galore, lots of photographs and even these columns. But perhaps most importantly, I try to savor grace-filled moments as they happen since I know I may struggle to recall them in the future. I am the one who, when having a good time with friends or family, likes to say out loud, “Aren’t we all having a good time?” I have gotten into the habit of giving thanks for the joy in the moment, just in case it doesn’t easily spring to mind later. It’s my ultimate workaround. That being said, I know my life will be richer if I work harder to remember the details.

Pope Francis has spoken of the importance of memory in developing a relationship with Christ — especially if we can keep alive in our hearts the first time we encountered him.

“Our memory is so important for recalling the grace received because if we chase away that enthusiasm which comes from the memory of that first love, this enthusiasm coming from that first love, then a huge danger arrives for Christians: a lukewarm (faith). They’re there, immobile and yes, they’re Christians, but they’ve lost the memory of that first love. And they’ve also lost their enthusiasm. In addition, they’ve lost their patience, to tolerate life’s problems with the spirit of Jesus’ love, to tolerate, and to bear on their shoulders the difficulties. ...”

Memory also is connected with hope, he said, which is apropos as we celebrate this Christmas season.

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“We must evoke our memory so as not to lose the beautiful experience of that first love which feeds our hope. Many times that hope is in darkness but (a Christian) still goes ahead. He or she believes and goes forward because they know that hope never disappoints us, in finding Jesus. These two parameters are the very frames within which we can safeguard the salvation of the good people which comes from the Lord.”

That context makes our annual celebration and honoring of Christmas Memories (Pages 9-12, online Dec. 24) all the more significant. Though our readers are not all sharing their first encounters with Christ, they, through their remembering, are allowing us to glimpse the great graces that have come from their past celebrations of the Nativity of the Lord. Their memories remind us of the beauty that comes from living as a Christian — past, present and future. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did.

My prayer for each of you is that you savor the wonder of the Incarnation and use it as an opportunity to reflect on your own joyous memories of the season. May the peace of Christ be with you all!