What would it be like to suffer a “massive amnesia?” The question is troubling, but it is one that the encyclical Lumen Fidei invites us to ask. There Pope Francis and his co-author Benedict XVI alert us that the “question of truth”—the great question of our day—is a “question of memory,” even of “deep memory.”
Every Christian knows instinctually how crucial the memory is to the spiritual life. In the first place, there is our memory of the saving deeds and sufferings of Jesus Christ: his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. These events define our sense of space and of time. The holy city of Jerusalem is the center of the world’s attention, the altar the focal point of our churches, and the crucifix the symbol that makes a Catholic house a home. The rhythm of our weeks and years is also built upon our memory of Christ, with each Sunday marking the Lord’s resurrection, and the cycle of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost marking the seasons of our year. Without our “deep memory” of Christ, we would be lost in the cosmos.