Family gatherings are a particularly joy-filled event for me. I get to catch-up on how everyone is doing (sometimes what they are doing) as well as just spending some quality time with family. Inevitably, an aunt or uncle will say, “Remember when……” and all the nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws (and out-laws) will gather around to hear the tale. We laugh, smile, sometimes even cry remembering our loved ones whom we have loss but always, in the end, embrace and give thanks for each other and for…remembering. Holy week is like that for Christians. In fact, we have a special word for it: anamnesis.
The Greek word literally means to “call to mind’ or “recollect.” Among Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the word anamnesis is connected to the consecration of the bread and wine which then are transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. It is literally the prayer of remembrance in which the family of God calls to mind the Lord’s passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. It is the high point of the Divine Liturgy that re-collects our thoughts and focuses us on recalling what Christ did visibly on earth, He now continues to do invisibly and sacramnetally through the Eucharist. Holy Week is an extended anamnesis.
Now, I realize that sometimes it is difficult to see the golden thread that links all the days of the Triduum together – except as a piece of ancient history. The question from my kids and the teens I work with is how do we enter into this “recollection” and apply it is us. After much thought, prayer and some exegesis (yuck!), I thought I would offer a few thoughts and meditations to assist you along the way. My hope is that they will draw you deep into the saga and the greatest love story ever known that we call Holy Week: