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The Power of Memory

The power of memory can be seen in human interactions on many different levels. What we remember colors our daily living and influences our decisions and actions. When I remember that someone has cheated me in the past, it is likely that I will not be able to trust that person in the future. On the other hand, when I remember God's mercy towards me, it is more likely that I will show mercy to someone else: “Her many sins are forgiven because she loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, loves less”. A well-known story is told of a young woman walking the streets of Paris one rainy evening and stumbling upon couple of poor children who had no shoes. She wanted to do something for them, so she took them to a local shoe store and bought them two pairs of socks and two pairs of brand new sneakers. As she began walking away one of the children asked her: “Hey lady, are you God?” She turned around with a smile and replied: “No, but I'm His daughter”. It was the power of memory that allowed this young woman to do this small and yet great deed; she remembered who she was and because of her remembering she felt compelled to do something. We can use the power of our memory for good or for evil. When we remember only the bad things that happened to us, how people hurt us, this is when the power of the memory can damage our lives and move us away from God. Our Christian tradition teaches us to use memory for good instead: by remembering what God has done for us, how He died for us, how He blessed us. Remembering God's goodness is the beginning of prayer, the beginning of meditation. This is precisely what we do during Mass, when the priest speaks for all of us when he reminds God what He did for us: "God our Heavenly Father, you sent your only Son to redeem us from sin and open the gates of Heaven to those who believe..." Phrases like this are numerous during Mass, and they indicate not God's need to be reminded what He did for us, but rather, a prayerful and poetic way of reminding ourselves of the good that God has directed our way. So, next time you remember something: pay attention. Ask yourself: Am I choosing to remember the good or the bad? Am I using the power of memory to draw closer to God or further away from Him.

Fr. Wojtek Kuzma

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