The Memorial of the Deceased of Genesee Abbey
At the Place of the Skull there Jesus is cruciﬁed between two criminals. As they are dying surrounded by people jeering, mocking, insulting, and surely some weeping, in the midst of all this a criminal turns his head to Jesus “Jesus, remember me when you enter upon your reign.” Turning His head to the man, Jesus replied, “I assure you, this day you will be with Me in paradise.” This brief exchange, so personal, so intimate, was both an act of belief and hope and an act of mercy fully granted then and there.
The words “remember me” are most ﬁtting for our celebration today on this anniversary of the death of our ﬁrst abbot, Dom Gerard McGinley. With him, we remember all our deceased brothers by name. In hearing their names in the memento of the dead we recall even brieﬂy a life, a unique life given to the Lord as a Cistercian monk. In living the vows of stability, obedience, and conversion of life each one had said to the Lord by his life a daily prayer of commitment and trust: “Lord, remember me.”
To the end our brothers lived the monastic life lovingly remembering the Lord – in the words of the Rule “Preferring nothing to the love of Christ – a life of remembering in prayer, in worship, in work, and in community. Sometimes they remembered well and sometimes, not so well – monastic life is at once a journey of God’s merciful grace and a very human journey. With it all, they continued on in faith and trust.
The criminal’s prayer “Remember me” – is a mantra for all of us. It is a prayer of faith, of desire – both of which are at the heart of our Cistercian life. We celebrate and remember those whose journey has ended and we continue on trusting and hoping and perhaps, even expecting that one day the Lord will say. “Come, share your Master’s joy; I remember you well!”