The motto of the great ones might well be “Winner Take All—Even the Memories.” The winner owns history and bends it to his will.
-Daniel Berrigan, S.J., The Kings and Their gods
It does not take much reflection to perceive how detail-devoid Eucharistic Prayers—that do not mention Jesus’ new commandment given at the Last Supper, that do not mention His rejection of violence, that do not mention His love of even lethal enemies, that do not mention His prayer for persecutors, and His struggle to overcome evil with good—serve a critical function in amalgamating Christianity into the local, national or ethnic violence-ennobling myths. Intentional forgetfulness, structured inattentiveness, and a cavalier disparaging of the Savior’s teachings of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies have always been part of this process of Churches validating Christian violence and enmity by calculated evasions. Without thses cultivated liturgical blind spots Jesus could not be drafted as a Divine support person for the home team’s homicide and enmity.
It is possible today, as it has been possible for 1700 years, for a normal person to spend a lifetime listening to the Eucharistic Prayers of all of the mainline Christian Churches and never apprehend that what is being remembered is a Person—who at the moments being remembered in the Prayer—rejects violence, forgives everyone, prays for persecutors, returns good for evil. In other words, in most Christian Churches, the anamnesis, remembrance, of Jesus’ passion and murder has become an agency for the loss of memory about truths in the suffering and death of Christ; truths that if consistently brought to consciousness at the sacred time of the community’s Eucharist would stand in judgment on a multitude of community activities, past and present. So until this very day, in the Eucharistic Liturgies of the violence-endorsing, war-approving Churches of Christianity the words “suffered and died” have been quite enough memory, commemoration, remembrance, recall, or anamnesis for fulfilling the Lord’s command, “Do this in memory of me.”
Below is a prototype of a simple Eucharist Prayer supplement that can be added to any Eucharistic Prayer of any of the Churches without changing a sentence of their current Eucharistic Prayers. Its addition would not be a whimsical or arbitrary or forced insertion of just another event from Jesus’ life into the Eucharist Prayer. This is factually what happened from the Cenacle to the Crucifixion. This is the Apostolic memory given to us by the ultimate historical, theological and pastoral documents on the subject: the Four Gospels.
A Prototype of
A Historically Truthful, Theologically Accurate, Pastorally Urgent
Eucharistic Prayer/Anamnesis Supplement
…At the time He was betrayed, on the night before He went forth to His eternally memorable and life-giving death, like a Lamb led to slaughter: rejecting violence, loving His enemies, and praying for His persecutors, He bestowed upon His disciples the gift of a New Commandment:
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also
should love one another.”
Then He took bread into His hands, and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying:
“Take this, all of you, and eat of it: for this is my body
which will be given up for you.”
In a similar way, when the Supper was ended, He took the chalice. And once more giving thanks, He gave it to His disciples, saying:
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it: for this is the chalice of my blood,
the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
“Do this in memory of me.”
Therefore, obedient to this precept of salvation, we remember and reverence His passion where He lived to the fullest that which He taught for our sanctification. We remember His suffering at the hands of a fallen humanity filled with the spirit of violence and enmity. But, we remember also that He endured this humiliation with a love free of retaliation, revenge, and retribution. We recall His execution on the cross. But, we recall also that He died loving enemies, praying for persecutors, forgiving, and being superabundantly merciful to those for whom justice would have demanded justice. Finally, as we celebrate the memory of the fruits of His trustful obedience to your will, O God: the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand, the second and glorious coming, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks…
Certainly such an insertion would not be clogging up a Eucharistic Prayer with out-of-place, inappropriate, irrelevant factual detail—nor with speculative theology. What it would be is an extraordinary medium of metanoia, conversion, repentance, change of mind. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi, “the law prayer determines the law of belief determines the law of life,” may be an ancient Christian maxim, but the dynamic it illuminates is as operative and as powerful as ever today—and the great ones in the Church and in the state are fully aware of this. That is why by fiat they keep the Way Jesus responds to evil, even lethal evil, at the time of His passion and murder off the table, off the Eucharistic Table by composing and enforcing Eucharistic Prayers that repress communal memory. “Suffered and died” is enough remembrance (anamnesis) for their purpose. But, is it enough for God’s purpose?
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetfulness. -Milan Kundera