(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 26 September 2016)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Each morning, and before each class, we are invited to remember that we are always in the presence of a loving and merciful God.
One morning, as I was driving to school last week, I was contemplating the vital role that memory plays in our daily lives. For the past three years I taught an introduction to psychology course and our unit on memory was always one of my favorites to teach, and a student favorite as well.
We have all been left in awe by an amazing feat of memory, such as when one of my former students, Natalie, won the Pi memorization contest by reciting over 350 decimal places without making an error.
We have all experienced the anguish of the all too familiar tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. It can be frustrating when you realize that you know that person’s name or the answer to that test question but are unable to recall the information in the moment of need.
Many of us may have experience with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It is heart-wrenching to witness the impact of such illnesses on the people we love and hold dear.
As teachers, one of the most important aspects of our vocation is getting to know our students and that begins by learning and remembering each one of our students’ names.
As students, memory is essential in order for us to remember what we study and succeed in school and beyond.
Memory is so intricately tied up with our identity and our emotions. Sometimes memories can cause us pain as we recall past hurts, humiliations, and rejections. It never feels good to remember that time we failed the big test, made an error that cost our team the game, or were rejected by our peers.
On the other hand, memories can also serve as a source of happiness as we reflect on our past accomplishments and joyful occasions such as the day we passed our driver’s test, high school graduation, and our wedding day. Ultimately, these experiences, and the memories of them, comprise a significant portion of who we are, and God can use all of them, the joys and even the hurts, to bring us closer to Him.
Over the summer my wife Melissa and I took our two children, Gracie and Kallan to see the movie Finding Dory. The very popular film was a sequel to one of my favorite movies, the 2003 hit Finding Nemo. As we were watching the movie, it struck me that Dory’s forgetfulness was an obstacle that impacted her sense of identity. But despite Dory’s memory struggles, she begins to remember her origins. Dory remembers that the environment she is in is not her true home. In bits and pieces she remembers her parents and her childhood home and this awareness sets her soul on a mission to find her true home. Of course, she cannot make this journey without the help of her friends, including Nemo and his dad, Marlin.
I found this to be symbolic of our lives as Christians here on earth. When we remember who we are and where we come from, our lives are transformed. The realization that our origins are in God and our destiny is to return to Him for all eternity, can set our souls on fire with passion and purpose.
Ok, Spoiler Alert: Dory is determined to find her true home and she just keeps swimming until she makes her way there. When she finally reaches her home, she realizes that her parents have set out a trail of shells to help guide her way. God provides us with so many shells, or signs, to help guide each of us home to His loving embrace. God guides us through His Holy Word, the Bible, through His Church and the Sacraments, through the gifts and talents He has blessed us with, and through the everyday acts of kindness sent our way through family, friends, and even strangers. And just like Marlin in the original film, God relentlessly pursues His children until He brings them back to His fold.
The Islamic tradition teaches its followers that human beings are forgetful creatures. While that forgetfulness can be very useful in helping us to make room for new information or even to aid in overcoming affliction, it is the forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature and connection to God that is especially harmful. Hence the ritual prayers five times a day are a helpful reminder to be conscious of our true selves in relation to almighty God.
In the Christian tradition, St. Paul exhorts us to pray constantly in not only our thoughts but in the actions we take and choices we make.
Ultimately, Jesus asks us to remember Him in the most profound and mysterious of ways when He invites us to communion with Him through the reception of His Precious Body and Blood in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. He asks us to do this in memory of Him because He wants us to share in his joy and He knows that a relationship with Him is the true path to happiness.
Let us pray…
Let us pray that we be conscious today of all the signs that God is sending our way to help us remember His amazing love.
Let us pray for all those who suffer from illnesses that rob them of their identity and for their loved ones who suffer helplessly by their sides.
Let us pray for all those who have forgotten their true identity and have lost their way.
Let us pray that no matter what challenges or obstacles we encounter, we may remember to just keep swimming with perseverance and purpose.
Let us pray that we may always remember that we are all children of a loving and merciful God Who longs to share His life, His love, and His joy with each and every one of us. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Anthony Russo–Campus Minister