In every Mass during the words of consecration the priest repeats the words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me.”
In our culture, to remember something is simply to call it to mind. If more thought is given to the subject, we would likely use words like “consider,” or “reflect upon.” However, in Jesus’ culture, to remember had a much deeper meaning.
From the beginning of time, worship involved remembering through re-enactment, and in that process, making present the effect of a past act of God. We see this in the Jewish celebration of Passover, where re-enacting the Hebrews deliverance from Egypt through the Passover liturgy and sacred meal made the reality of God’s deliverance present to the Jewish family. Going back to 10,000 BC in the ruins of the Gobekli Tepe, we see that the worship of ancient man involved a re-enactment of the Eden story.
To remember is to participate. In the Mass the events of the Passion of Christ “become in a certain way present and real… When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present. The sacriﬁce of Christ oﬀered once for all on the Cross remains ever present.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Para. 1363, 1364)
The Mass makes the sacrifice of Christ truly present as the bread and wine become the real presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. In the Mass, we become the disciples at the Last Supper, in Gethsemane, and at Calvary. In this memorial/re-enactment, we are invited to join our sacrifice, the living sacrifice of our lives, to Christ’s sacrifice, so Christ can present it along with his to the Father.