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He looked at me as if he had never seen me before. Nothing could be further from the truth. From my first moments of life he was always at my side. We even share the same name, a name that my father had been unable to say since Alzheimer’s disease had unleashed its hideous attack on him some years before. How heartbreaking it was to observe the person who had taught me just about everything in life, now unable to utter a single word. He was the reason I had no problem understanding the concept of God the Father because I knew He must be just as kind and loving as my Dad.
That day of my visit I was moved by Our Lord to pray with my father. We had not prayed together for quite a long time. In gratitude we thanked God for all that He had given us and asked that He accompany my father all the moments of his life. The next time that we would pray together would be the last, just a few weeks later. Together with my brothers around my father’s bed we prayed him along his imminent journey to everlasting peace with Our Father.
The most insidious of Alzheimer’s crimes is that it robs us of our memory, one of God’s most potent gifts in developing our spiritual life. Through memory we can bring back to life our loved ones, precious moments, greatest accomplishments, feelings of joy, and even times of trial and travail. Our pleasant memories remind us of the countless people who have contributed to our lives, while our difficult memories give us the opportunity to recall how God and others captured us from the depths of pain and restored us to life in the Lord. Even Jesus on the eve of His death asked that we always remember Him in the Eucharist with the words, “Do this in memory of me.”
Memory is the parent of gratitude, and gratitude is the foundation of Stewardship. Our lifetimes help us realize the immensity of the gifts we have so lovingly received others and Our Lord. With a heart full of gratitude, giving becomes our chosen response.
Let us use our memories to reflect on how our lives have been filled with the sacrifices of others and the blessings of Our God. Let us offer our gratitude for those gifts through prayers of word and deed. Let us honor the contributions we have received from Our Lord and others, by offering our gifts to create wonderful memories for those God has chosen for us to serve.
God bless you.