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  • The Rev. Charles Smith

Memento Mori You Are Going to Die


The inevitability of our own death is something that most of us manage to hide away in the deep recesses of our consciousness that we do not visit very often. We manage to clutter our lives with the busyness and stress of living leaving precious little time to ponder upon larger questions of life. But this week the confluence of secular and sacred celebrations conspire to force us to pause, if only briefly, to consider our own mortal nature.


Memento Mori!


It will come as no surprise to you that on Sunday the world was busy celebrating All Hallows’ Eve, or as you likely know it Halloween. It is literally the evening to celebrate and remember the hallowed ones (the saints). November 1 is All Hallows’ Day (commonly known as All Saints’ Day in the modern era) and November 2 is All Souls’ Day. While All Hallows’ and All Souls’ and even the Halloween celebrations of dressing up and asking for treats from your neighbors are distinct they each point us inexorably towards the inescapable eventuality of our own death.


All Hallows’ is the time in the church year when we remember those who have died in perfect friendship with God and who are now fully in his presence. The saints serve as an example to each of us and are present with the Lord ready to make prayers on your behalf. When we celebrate Halloween and All Hallows’ we are calling to memory those holy men and women who have come before us and we ask that they offer prayers on our behalf that we might remain true and faithful.


All Souls’ is the time in the church year where we remember and offer particular intercession for all who have died. Traditionally people visit the graves of their loved ones and offer prayer for them and it is particular appropriate to visit graveyards and to pray for the dead during the octave (eight days following) of All Hallows’.


All three days force us to pause and memento mori if for but a moment. This party called life ends at some point and there will be an accounting for the choices that we have made. Perhaps this week is a good time for you to schedule your own sacramental confession to say how sorry you are for the sinful choices you have made and to begin returning to Jesus.


Jesus comes so that we do not need to fear any death, even our own death, for “if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the living and the dead” (Romans 14:8-9).


Jesus is there with the Father and the Holy Spirit knitting us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Jesus is there with us in our living and even in our dying. Jesus comes and dies on the cross to serve as the pioneer, perfecter, and author or our salvation even through the sharpness of death (Hebrews 12:2). No matter what Jesus is there for and with you. The saints are also present praying for you. There is nothing to be afraid of because Jesus has, through his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming literally gone to hell and back for you to destroy everything there is to fear.


So this week take a few minutes to memento mori—remember that you are going to die but do not let that make you afraid. Ask the saints in heaven to pray for you. Pray for those undergoing sanctification now who await full unification with Jesus. Memento mori. Remember that you will die and prepare for that day when you shall see Jesus face to face by making your own confession.


Memento Mori. But don’t ever be afraid for even in death Jesus is there.

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