Before I was born, my mom was an executive administrative assistant to one of the vice presidents of the Boy Scouts of America. Part of the perk of that position was the ability to go on vacation during the summer to one of the Boy Scout camps located in New Jersey. The camp would close for three weeks, allowing the organization’s staff to enjoy some rest and relaxation.
My mom and dad took my sister, who was an infant at the time, to the Schriff Scout Reservation in northeast New Jersey. This was about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from New York City.
Even though I was never there, I can remember seeing 8mm home movies of my sister bobbing in the pool and exploring the cabin and area surrounding it. There was one segment my dad took of the canopy of trees overhead that I thought was mesmerizing. He drove a golf cart down the main drive of the reservation, and filmed the trees overhead. I always thought that it was soothing, as well as a bit nauseating.
Thirty-five years later, when I was a novice with the Sisters of Christian Charity, I found myself walking down a pathway with a very familiar evergreen canopy. The buildings too were familiar, even though I had never visited this camp before. As I pondered the light that shone through the evergreens and asked, “Where have I seen this before?” I finally connected the dots! It was the very same place that my parents and my sister vacationed before I was born. At that moment, the walk I was on changed because it became hallowed ground for me. My family was there before I was!
I am reminded of this story as I continue to muse over the source and summit of the Church: The Eucharist. In the book, The Eucharist, Our Sanctification, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa writes, “‘Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19) In this she is the most perfect model of Eucharistic contemplation: this is what the Christians who have just received Jesus in the Eucharist must be like. They too must receive Jesus with their minds and receiving him into their bodies. And to receive Jesus with their mind means to think of him and have one’s gaze fixed on him, to remember him. And here we have the key word of this meditation: to remember Jesus, to do things in memory of him.”1
“Do this in memory of me” were words etched into the heart of the Gospel writers. Cardinal Cantalamessa continues, “The Eucharistic memorial has a twofold significance: one concerns God and the other concerns humanity. … [It] consists in reminding the Father of Jesus – in inviting the Father to remember what Jesus did for us and, for his sake, to forgive us and help us … [as well as] reminding us of [what Jesus did for us.]”2
“The Fathers of the Church and especially the Greek Fathers have elaborated a rich Eucharistic spirituality based on the words of Jesus and which are used in the liturgy: Do this in memory of me. For them, the spiritual fruit of the Eucharist is nothing else but a constant memory of Jesus. It is through the constant remembrance, in fact, that God comes to dwell in a soul and makes it his temple.”3
Memory. Who would have thought that something so powerful a gift allows the echo of the Passion, Death and Resurrection to live on in our time? Amazing!
1Cantalamessa, Raniero. The Eucharist, Our Sanctification. St Pauls, 2016. Pg. 55.
2Ibid. pg. 56.
3Ibid. pg 57.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness