Amoris Laetitia 193: Historical Memory

amoris laetitia memeWe think of history as a rational discipline, looking to books and websites to give us the facts. The truth is that shared memories, whiloe perhaps not wholly accurate, involve more than the sharing of events. In sharing memories, we share much of ourselves, good or bad, in the recounting of how we experienced the past.

193. The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. A mentality that can only say, “Then was then, now is now”, is ultimately immature. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. Memory is necessary for growth: “Recall the former days” (Heb 10:32). Listening to the elderly tell their stories is good for children and young people; it makes them feel connected to the living history of their families, their neighborhoods and their country. A family that fails to respect and cherish its grandparents, who are its living memory, is already in decline, whereas a family that remembers has a future. “A society that has no room for the elderly or discards them because they create problems, has a deadly virus”;(Catechesis (4 March 2015))“it is torn from its roots”.(Address at the Meeting with the Elderly (28 September 2014)) Our contemporary experience of being orphans as a result of cultural discontinuity, uprootedness and the collapse of the certainties that shape our lives, challenges us to make our families places where children can sink roots in the rich soil of a collective history.

We might have parents and an extended elderly contingent in our families, but do we function as orphans for the lack of the narrative? What do you think? How is it in your family? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 193: Historical Memory

  1. Melody says:

    Doesn’t every family have an oral history? I talked a lot with my grandparents, at least the ones I knew. Reminds me that I need to write things down, I might be the only person alive who heard part of those narratives. Some of the events they mentioned were over 100 years ago by now.

  2. LIam says:

    Because I was the youngest child of 5 for 7 yrs, the then next to youngest of 6, I became the child who spent the most time with elders (my father’s four surviving elder siblings were between 17 and 23 years older than him), so I became the functional genealogist and transcriber (and vetter) of stories (I am a terrible story teller myself, but I am gifted at getting people to tell stories). For example, among many things, it was I who got to tell my mother that she had a brother she never knew she had (he was born during the Spanish Flu epidemic in January 1919, five years before her, but with a severe illness and lack of nurses – the youngest of whom were dropping like flies – meant he could not get necessary care).

    Being a neurotic child, what I loved about old people was that (with some exceptions) they tended to be relatively free from ego-anxiety and relaxed in their aging, aching skins, as it were. (I’ve since learned that this transformation often toggles around the age of 50.)

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