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Preserving Memory

Thursday, 7 March 2019



In his first Mass at Santa Marta since the start of Lent, Pope Francis invited the faithful to use the time of Lent to remember what the Lord has done in our lives. “At the beginning of Lent, it would do us good to ask for the grace to preserve the memory of all that the Lord has done in our lives, of how He has loved us”, he said on 7 March. In this way, we can avoid the risk of falling into the idolatry and the wellbeing that makes one forget about God. In the day’s first reading from Deuteronomy (30:15-20), Moses offered this same advice to the People of God, in order to prepare them to enter the promised land, a decision that was both “a challenge and a choice”, a choice between life and death. Indeed, Moses uses the following words in addressing the people: “‘if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods”. What this means, Pope Francis explained, is that when the heart turns away or takes the wrong path, it loses its compass and a “heart without a compass is a public danger”. “A heart takes this mistaken path when it does not listen, when it allows itself to be led astray, drawn away by the gods”. Thus, when our souls become deaf and we do not listen to the Lord, we run the risk of being led astray by the ‘fireworks’ of idolatry. The “danger along the path towards the land that was promised to us all: the land of the encounter with the Risen Christ” comes precisely from not listening to the Lord and his promises; from losing memory, the Holy Father explained.

Furthermore, he warned against the danger of falling into a certain “amnesia of satisfaction” which leads to thinking “I am doing well as I am and I forget what the Lord has done in my life”. And this is when “the heart begins to go backwards because it does not listen to the voice of its own heart: memory”. Idolatry, the Holy Father explained, is also “an attitude of the heart, when you prefer this because it is more comfortable for me and not the Lord because you have forgotten the Lord”. However, “Lent helps us to journey on this path” when we forget about all the things that God has done for us and become accustomed to living according to our own strengths”.

It will also do us good, Pope Francis said, “to continuously repeat Paul’s advice to Timothy, his beloved disciple: ‘Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead’” (2 Tim 2:8). He is the one “who will accompany us until the moment when I shall have to appear before him”.

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