(a medical-theological themed hugot)
In school, I always thought the most important skill is to have good memory. To learn the ways of the world and to remember them, to memorize facts, theories, equations, rules, historical dates, spelling, grammar seemed to be all I’ve ever known during my academic life. A good memory comes in handy during exams, recitations, speeches, and presentations, but I realize it’s not the brain that “never forgets” but the heart.
Even the body has its own way of remembering. In med school, we were taught that after an infection, the t-cells and b-cells that fight viruses and bacteria in our bodies turn into “memory t-cells and memory b-cells”. These memory cells stay in the body long after the virus and bacteria have been defeated. Because of this, we usually don’t get reinfected by the same bacteria and viruses. As soon as our body recognizes the same bacteria or virus, it sends these memory cells to quickly attack these returning pathogens.
Even in matters of faith, memory plays a big role. My favorite part of the Holy Mass is the consecration of the Holy Eucharist when the priest says: “Do this in memory of Me”. With the mystery of the wine and host becoming Jesus’ Body and Blood, I cannot help but bow down in eager anticipation when I receive Jesus.
He is ever present in the Blessed Eucharist and as the priest makes the act of consecration, we remember, we celebrate, and we believe the love-mystery of how Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for us. This mystery is embedded in our shared memory as believers. Each time we fall into sin and struggle with darkness, it’s like our hearts, minds, and bodies refuse to forget the victory of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection. It is the final and lasting victory.
As we go through life, what stays with us are our memories. We can choose to let our memories heal us, strengthen us and, make us wiser. Memories could bring us joy, nostalgia, and profound learning even if they are not exactly the most pleasant memories. And so I’d like to tell you, I thank God each time I remember you – the collective “you”, all the people who mean so much to me. Maybe this is why it’s a great tragedy in love to forget, which makes Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, or dementia specially painful for the beloved, but I believe the heart never forgets. Jesus showed us, the heart always wins.