Father Alexander Schmemann concludes this sixth chapter of The Eucharist Sacrament of the Kingdom: Sacrament of the Kingdomby focusing on the meaning of commemoration. What does it mean for the priest to ask God to remember us in his kingdom during the Great Entrance? What does it mean to refer everything to the memory of God? While memory is fundamental to the life of the Church, school theology cannot adequately account for it, for it is not sufficiently “objective” or based on “texts” and so memory remains outside of the theological field of vision.

And, strangely enough, this theological obliviousness leads in fact precisely to the “psychologization of worship, which, like a splendid flower, blossoms in its reduction to outward “illustrative” symbolism and so greatly interferes with a genuine understanding of and genuine participation in worship. If, on the hand, the liturgical “remembrance,” the “celebration of the memory” of this or that event, is perceived today entirely as a psychological, intellectual focus on the “meaning” of that event (which inevitably abets its “symbolization”), and if, on the other, commemoration in prayer is simply identified with a prayer on behalf of another human being, then it is of course because we forget the genuine meaning of memory and commemoration, which is manifested in the Church. (124)

Memory is our human capacity to resurrect the past, but this very capacity is ambiguous for what it resurrects is no longer for it is past.

For, in the end, memory in man is nothing other than the knowledge, peculiar only to man, of death, of the fact that “death and time rule on the earth.” (125)

It is only in relation to this “natural” memory that we can appreciate the newness of that memory given to us in Christ. In the biblical understanding memory refers to the attentiveness of God to His creation. Thus

memory, like everything else in God, is real, it is that life that he grants, that God “remembers”; it is the eternal overcoming of the “nothing” out of which God called us into “his wonderful light.” (125)

Human beings have, of all creation, been given the task of remembering God in order to receive the world from God and lift it up to God.

If God’s remembrance of man is the gift of life, then man’s remembrance of God is the reception of this lifecreating gift, the constant acquisition of and increase in life. (126)

In this context we can see that the horror of sin is our forgetting of God, for

to forget means above all to cut what has been forgotten off from life, to cease to live by it, to fall away from it. It is not simply to “stop thinking” about God – for the militant atheist is often “obsessed” with his hatred for God, and there are many on earth, who, while sincerely convinced of their “religiosity,” nevertheless seek in religion everything imaginable, but not God. It is precisely a falling away from him, from life, ceasing to live through him and in him. And it is precisely in such obliviousness toward God that the fundamental – original – sin of man consisted and consists. Man forgot God because he turned his love, and consequently his memory and his very life, to something else, and above all to himself. He turned away from God and ceased to see him. He forgot God and God ceased to exist for him. For the terror and irreparability of obliviousness lie in the fact that, like memory, it is ontological. (126)

Salvation therefore consists in the restoration of memory as a life-creating power and this is accomplished in Christ.

He is the incarnation in man and for man, in the world and for the world, of God’s remembrance, of the divine and lifecreating life directed toward the world. And he is the perfect manifestation and fulfilment in man of his remembrance of God, as the content, the power and the life of life itself. (127)

Christ transform fallen and mortal time into the history of salvation, revealing its meaning as the expectation and preparation for salvation and the gradual restoration of human memory so that we will recognise him in the fullness of time. Memory therefore has to do with the essence of our faith.

From the very first day of Christianity, to believe in Christ meant to remember him and keep him always in mind. It is not simply to “know” about him and his doctrine, but to know him – living and abiding among those who love him. From the very beginning the faith of Christians was memory and remembrance, but memory restored to its lifecreating essence – for, as opposed to our “natural,” “fallen” memory, with its illusory “resurrection of the past,” this new memory is a joyous recognition of the one who was resurrected, who lives and therefore is present and abides, and not only recognition but also encounter and the living experience of communion with him. … That is why it is no longer the “past” that we remember, but Christ himself, and this remembrance becomes our entry into his victory over time, over its collapse into “past,” “present” and “future.” (128-29)

It is only in this context that we can understand the commemoration that is a sort of verbal expression of the Great Entrance, for through it

we include the ones being remembered in the lifecreating memory of Christ. … We return each other, in Christ, to God, and in this giving back we affirm that the one remembered and given back is alive, for he abides in God’s memory. (130)

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