Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Remembering Christ

by Fr. Adrian Burke, OSB


"Never swerving from God's instructions, then, but faithfully observing God's teachings in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen."

Rule of St. Benedict  Prologue.50

It's Memorial Day as I write this, which for me is more than just the first official day of summer. It's a day to actively and prayerfully keep the memory of the many men and women who contributed all they had to the greatest ever experiment in democracy - what we call The United States of America. My freedom as an American is built on their sacrifices; and if we don't want to lose those freedoms we so enjoy, we'd better work hard on not forgetting! 

As a Benedictine monk, I feel completely at home in this because the Church has been "making memory" (as one of my confreres often expresses it) of those upon whose shoulders our faith rests for more than 2,000 years now. Keeping the memory of the known and unknown multitude that have gone ahead of us in the Christian way of life is a vital practice for us because it keeps us mindful of our essential unity in Christ, the first and most important forebear whose memory we keep.

Remembering Christ is so essential to our way of life that we monks center our days on the act of "making memory" by gathering to celebrate the holy Eucharist each day, fulfilling Jesus' commandment to "do this in memory of me." 

This is also a vital way for us Benedictines to point to and signify the Kingdom of God, which is the core of our vocation as consecrated religious. Monks do this "memory making" every day because, for us, the Eucharist serves as each day's spiritual high point and center.

We remember Jesus, but we also remember all those united to Jesus Christ by faith and love. Keeping the memory of those monks, and more broadly those Christians, who have gone ahead of us marked by our shared faith in Christ also helps us appreciate how much we have relied on their witness.

Without their perseverance in faith, and their patience in "carrying the crosses" of their own lives' circumstances, whatever they were, I could not have known Christ myself - for to have believed in Christ, I had to first have heard of Him and heard his message. 

In every generation since that first generation of disciples, there have been faithful Christians remaining true to Jesus and his Gospel, whom they believed to embody the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham. So, as I remember the witness and sacrifices of previous generations of Christians, I am grateful to them and to God, for my faith in Jesus was built on their faith in Him, a faith that goes back 2,000 years, to Jesus Himself.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.