Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the continued confusion, division, and unrest in the world?
The simple, forgotten practice of memento mori in the Catholic tradition can help you. Meditation on death, a practice encouraged by Scripture and the saints, can help you keep things in perspective and breathe new life into each day as you grow closer to Jesus.
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+ Remember Your Death +
Memento mori, or “remember your death,” was a phrase popular in medieval times. But remembering one’s death in order to live well is an ancient tradition that stretches back to the beginning of salvation history. The Book of Sirach urges, “In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin” (7:38).
In the New Testament, Jesus exhorted his disciples to carry their cross daily (see Lk 9:23), which is another way to say "remember your death." The Rule of Saint Benedict, written for monks in the 6th century, includes the imperative to “keep death daily before one’s eyes." Stoic philosophers also wrote of the importance of remembering death in order to live well.
The practice of meditation on death can be valuable for non-Christians as well as for Christians. But for Christians, it’s entirely different. For us, death is illuminated by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Remembering death is more about remembering that Christ has saved us from the death of sin.
Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP is a religious sister with the Daughters of St. Paul. At the forefront of reviving the ancient Christian discipline of meditation on death, she was inspired by Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, who kept a skull on his desk to remind him of his inevitable death. She has written several resources to help people to meditate on their death regularly including the Memento Mori Journal, the Memento Mori Lenten Devotional, Memento Mori: Prayers on the Last Things, Memento Mori: An Advent Companion on the Last Things, and the Memento Mori perpetual desk calendar.