Spiritual memory and the Holy Trinity 


Before our present time, not so many people lived long enough for hips and knees to wear out.

Memories also fade, but that problem of being old is not new:  "Even if [your father's] mind fails, be considerate of him; do not revile him because you are in your prime" (Sirach 3:13).  A whole science is developing to stave off forms of dementia.  There is also a spiritual dementia that forgets God, but the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the cure for forgetfulness.  Pope Francis recently preached:  "The Holy Spirit is God active in us, God who helps us remember, who awakens our memory.  Jesus himself explains this to the Apostles before Pentecost:  'the Spirit that God will send in my name will remind you of everything I have said.'"

The Risen Lord helped the two men on the Emmaus Road to remember the prophecies of the Resurrection.  The Pope used the image of a road for Christian life:  "Memory is a great grace, and when a Christian has no memory — this is a hard thing, but it's true — he is not a Christian; he is an idolater, because he is before a God that has no road, that does not know how to move forward on the road.  Our God is moving forward on the road with us, He is among us, He walks with us.  He saves us.  He makes history with us.  Be mindful of all that, and life becomes more fruitful, with the grace of memory."

Through the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother had the Church's best memory, and she "treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).  Spiritual memory is not like the reminiscence in which our culture engages on Memorial Day, for instance.  That is an edifying piety, and Cicero said that to forget one's past is to remain always a child.  But the Holy Trinity transports the soul into an existence not limited by time.  That is why the "memorial of the Eucharist" is an actual encounter with Christ and not a form of nostalgia.

We cannot know the full mystery of the Holy Trinity, but unlike oriental forms of mysticism which would obliterate consciousness altogether, we are given an eternal memory when we love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Beloved Disciple said, "We love Him because He loved us" (1 John 4:19).  St. John lived until the third year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, which was 100 A.D.  He may have had some gerontological decay, for he had to be carried about and kept repeating, "Little children, love one another."  When the Ephesian believers tried to "be considerate of him" by asking why he said only that, over and over again, he replied, "Because this is our Lord's command and if you fulfill this, nothing else is needed."




Father George William Rutler. "Spiritual memory and the Holy Trinity."  From the Pastor (May 26, 2013).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001. 

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2013 Father George W. Rutler

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