Memory: Wired for God in the Eucharist | Dr. Joseph R. Hollcraft | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
As we reflect on the principle of memory, we are drawn into what lies at the center of it all, Christ and his words in the institution of the Eucharist: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor.15:25).
No Ordinary Pilgrimage
In the winter of 2007, I got in a car with a close friend of mine, and we made the three-hour drive to the third annual “Walk for Life West Coast” in San Francisco. As I explained to my friend, this trip was not just about going on a “three-hour” pilgrimage to “Assisi by the Bay” (as it was coined by then Archbishop Levada) to witness on behalf of the unborn, but it was also to be a journey into the past. During my adolescence, I lived in the East Bay, and up to that point, I had never gone back to spend any significant time in my old neighborhood. So, it was after the conclusion of walking down Embarcadero Street, and praying on behalf of the unborn—which in itself was a profound experience—that we then set off for my old neighborhood, San Ramon, California.
Initially, my plan was to spend the late afternoon and evening in a few spots where I had a great deal of fond memories growing up. My plans quickly changed. As we drove onto the highway, I was thinking about my childhood, and surprisingly, the first thing that had come to mind were the many days I spent at the local junior college running track. Consequently, we decided to take a pit stop at Chabot Junior College. As we drove up to the college, and I looked over to see the same set of bleachers that were there 25 years ago, something happened to me, quite unexpectedly. I immediately remembered particulars of my time at Chabot that I had not thought of in a very long time—and there was more. As I walked through the entrance into the stadium, and smelled the fresh cut grass, it was almost as if the grass remembered me: calling out to me, as it were, “Do you remember me?” Once again, I remembered details of things that had happened to me long ago at Chabot Junior College. These moments left me overwhelmed, and I dare say, emotional. I could not help but ask myself—what is happening? Why am I being filled with so many memories and emotions, at the sight of a stadium, and the smell of grass? Such an experience was all very new to me. It was then that I started to think about the life of Pope John Paul II, and his reflections on the meaning of a pilgrimage.
John Paul II once spoke of the power of going on a pilgrimage, but not the conventional pilgrimage in which we journey to a holy destination with the hopes of being refreshed and experience renewal.