Shine On: The Power of Money
What do you remember about your grandfather? Cardigan sweaters, a red Ford Ranger truck, pipe smoke and treats for the dogs are the first things that come to my mind – that and him slipping a $20 bill in my hand as long as I promised I would waste it.
Memory is powerful and sometimes difficult to understand. A common fear for those who have lost a loved one is that their loved one’s face or voice will fade from memory. How could our memory lose hold of something so important like a face or a voice, when at the same time a smell or a place or a song can hurl us back through time to a moment long gone with such intensity that it’s as if we are there once again?
My grandfather died of Alzheimer’s disease, which ravishes the memory. He died at age 76, and, over the last five or so years of his life, it was like a little piece of him was chipped away every time I saw him. For a while, he knew me and knew I was his grandson, but he couldn’t remember which of his children I belonged to. Later on, he knew I was important, but he called me “The Bull” because he couldn’t remember my name. Later still, he sat quietly at family gatherings, a once boisterous joke-teller and avid card player, recognizing only his wife.
THE RUDDER THAT SAILS US
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 363, says, “In Sacred Scripture, the term ‘soul’ often refers to human life or the entire human person. But ‘soul’ also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: ‘soul’ signifies the spiritual principle in man.” I’m not exactly sure where memory fits into body and soul, but I know this: Memory is sacred.
Our memories tell us who we are, where we’ve been, and what we value. They are the rudder that sails us into the blue ocean of hopes and dreams and helps us avoid dangerous waters.
Anniversaries are occasions to commemorate and sometimes celebrate memory. This month we celebrate the bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – 200 years of memory, of churches built and torn down, of birth and death, of souls saved and sacraments celebrated. This is a great moment to remember who we are, where we’ve come from, what matters most, what matters least and how we wish to move into a future of hope.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord. Plans for your welfare, and not for woe. So as to give you a future of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
And, as it is for the archdiocese, so it is for us. There will be many celebrations for the bicentennial, but this is also a great time for you to remember that God’s plan is for your good, that He has a hopeful future in mind for you. It’s a chance for all of us to steer into the hope of God’s plans.
Take some time to look back this month, then take some time to look forward. Shine on into your future, harnessing the power of memory to help you become the person God made you to be.
This article appeared in the June 2021 Bicentennial Edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.