“May his memory be eternal.” “Vichnaya Pamyat.” (in Ukrainian)
Traditional Byzantine Prayer for the Dead

It seems that in this prayer for the dead we are really at the heart of life. Just as we are on Ash Wednesday.

We ask that there be memory: indeed an everlasting one. Perhaps only such memory is really memory in the full sense. My understanding is that the main object of the prayer is that God remember the soul of the departed. Thus this prayer is parallel to the Latin prayer for “Eternal Rest.”

To remember, in the richest sense, is to hold close to one’s heart. Permanently. It seems to me that this lends great meaning to the words written by Isaiah: “Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.”

To never be forgotten, ever, is an astounding thing. It makes me want to become a man who remembers. We too can remember; and our memory too can in a sense give life to people.

On Ash Wednesday Christians are exhorted to remember something about ourselves: who we are, and where our life is tending. I wonder if my memory can be more like God’s: everlasting. My remembering, it seems, is something I can offer not only to myself but to those around me. It will take practice, self-discipline, and sacrifice. I will need to begin by setting aside things that hinder memory. Perhaps this Lent I can learn to remember, just as I also want to be remembered.

In a sense, what else is there?


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