woman in winter coat with hands upraised

God’s Holy Memory – Psalm 30:5

 December 1, 2021

The Holidays are filled with memories. Some great, others not so great. Those are the ones we would like to forget. But what do we mean when we say memory is holy? And what is God’s Holy Memory?


There’s been news lately about the possibility of an Alzheimer’s vaccine. Sign me up! My mom is dealing with Alzheimer’s/dementia. At 91 she’s entitled to forget a few things.

Memory is precious; it is holy. To have the memory of your existence erased from the earth is a Hebrew curse. To have your memory taken from you while still alive … unbearable.

In my first parish, I remember an older woman, fifties or sixties, who was upset because she was forgetting so much. Was it Alzheimer’s she questioned? I reassured her that just because she forgot sometimes didn’t mean she had Alzheimer’s. All of us forget things now and then. Me, all of thirty. Who was I to advise someone twice my age? What did I know?

Such is the fear of Alzheimer’s as we age. I know it myself. The lists I used to write and leave at home, knowing I would remember … Not so much now.

I’ve never been much into material things. I’d much rather spend my money on memories. Because of this I have a lifetime of memories to fill the winter months – roses in December. The thought of losing those hard-earned memories is frightening. And yet that is often the reality as we age.

Holy Memory

I’ve been thinking about the importance of memory as I go back over the nooks and crannies in my brain where past memories are stored. In the midst of this reflection, I came across a prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. “

I remembered this prayer from my youth but had forgotten it. Funny how sometimes memories come back to us just when we need then. This time as I read it, I focused on the word memory. Memory came before understanding. Was God asking that I give up my most treasured possession? My memories? Perhaps that is what is going on with Alzheimer’s.

God’s Holy Memory

Then I came across this translation of the Psalm 30:5-6: “Sing praise to the LORD, you faithful; give thanks to his holy memory. For his anger lasts but a moment; his favor a lifetime. At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing.”

What is God’s Holy Memory? What does this passage mean? Is it possible that God forgets too? The writer of the psalm is giving thanks for God’s memory—that God’s anger lasts but a moment. God forgives and forgets our sins. What a wonderful reminder. If God, who knows everything, forgets our wrongdoings, who are we to hold onto remembrance of past offenses? Perhaps forgetfulness is a blessing. And perhaps, even Alzheimer’s can be a blessing.

God wants it all, even our memories. As precious as our memories are, there is something even greater. God’s great love and mercy.

What are you willing to give up this year as you prepare for Christmas? What holy memories are you holding onto and what ones are you ready to forgive?


For reflections on Advent and Christmas, check out my booklets, Season of Hope and Season of Promise.

This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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