Do This in Memory of Me

What Jesus shared with us was a meal and his life.

What Jesus shared with us was a meal and his life.

In each of the four eucharistic prayers in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the words “Do this in memory of me” are spoken by the priest in what is called the Institution Narrative. Although some of the words change for each prayer, these are repeated in each one: “Do this in memory of me.” They are significant words that help guide us in our understanding of this celebration.

In one sense, it is a clear reminder that the reason we meet each week in the Church is because Jesus gave his body and blood to the disciples through the celebration of the Last Supper just prior to his Passion. His words invoke the memory of this religious celebration, the great institution of the sacrament that gives us life and offers us salvation.

But our memory cannot stop there. In another, maybe more significant sense, the memory we must have when we celebrate the Eucharist is of Jesus himself. When we take his body and drink his blood, we are not only remembering the final meal he shared with his disciples before his Passion, we are remembering all that he was/is and all that he did. In one complex moment, we call to mind his triumphant Incarnation and his glorious Passion; the miracles he performed and the words he preached; the love and forgiveness he brought to the lost and the least, and the truth and justice he brought to the corrupt and powerful. Our memory of Jesus is not simply one of a religious feast or liturgical action, it is one of love, forgiveness, humility, simplicity, openness, mercy, unity in diversity, sacrifice, friendship, and most of all, justice.

Because of this, taking part in the mystery of the Eucharist does bring to the present a moment in history, the Last Supper, and allows us to share in the once-for-all sacrifice of our God; but it does much more than that. Taking part in the Eucharist brings to the present the whole life and teaching of Jesus. How can we possibly celebrate the feast without remembering the person celebrating it?

When we remember the person of Jesus, we radically open ourselves up to a new experience of and response to the Eucharist. If what we are remembering when we take the precious body and blood is how Jesus “emptied himself” to become human, we are forced to ask ourselves how well we act with humility and grace. If we remember how Jesus showed mercy and forgiveness to sinners, we are forced to ask ourselves how well we forgive those who wrong us. If we remember how Jesus loved the poor and cared for the outcasts of society, making them his primary focus because no one else would, we are forced to ask ourselves how well we love the poor and outcasts of society and whether or not we are missing an opportunity to love someone unloved by anyone else. In every way, if we remember the person of Jesus, we will be forced to compare our lives with the life he lived, challenging us to grow closer to the one who wants nothing more than to be in perfect union with us.

Jesus says, “Do this in memory of me.” My prayer is that, the next time you receive the Eucharist, you will be flooded with the powerful memory of Jesus’ life and teachings, that it may be such a powerful experience of remembering the person of Jesus that all you can do is let him pour out of you for the whole world. That is the memory Jesus wants us to have, and that is the true thanksgiving meal we share with one another. Only when Eucharist transforms us in this way can be it called the “source and summit” of our life.


4 Comments on “Do This in Memory of Me

  1. Friar Casey, Your love for the Eucharist is great and seems to be growing. This is key to our Franciscan Way of Life as He sustains us and companions us through all of our journeying. I know that now for the first time, I am able to attend Mass several times a week. The more I receive Christ the more I want to receive Him. So many have written that “we become what we love”. So many needs of people come into our consciousness and that may get to be overwhelming. We must stay focused and practice the Rule each day and we will get through and hopefully be a source of refreshment and hope to the people we meet.
    P.S. I am a Secular and met you at Francis House Celebration.
    Hang in there. Keep writing. Good stuff.
    Kathy Agosto, OFS

  2. Hey Casey,
    so great to see your blog for the first time… I am definitely impressed with both you & Dan Horan…
    You young friars give me so much hope and now your use of the modern media, makes our franciscan message so much more available to share… Delighted you included Kenosis as one of your themes…Did you ever read my book about it? Don’t forget the secret of memory… as Regis Duffy, ofm. used to tell us…memory invokes presence…that’s why forgetting is such a sin…
    Keep up your wonderful reflections…great for you to do, great for others, like me, to receive.
    Cheers! your bro. Kevin Cronin,ofm

    • Hey Kevin,

      Thanks for your encouragement. During novitiate I spent a lot of time with Kenosis and it is where I found your book (and read it.) Thanks for your insights!

      It’s great to hear from you and hope you’re doing well.


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