Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
With the rise in popularity of Stoicism (mostly thanks to Ryan Holiday) among many people today, so too has come the increase in awareness of the Latin phrase memento mori, which means “remember your death.”
The phrase has seen a resurgence among Catholics today, too. Sr. Theresa Aletheia has kept a skull on her desk to meditate on memento mori. For more than 200 days straight she has posted a brief meditation on Twitter about the experience:
Day 203 w ????on my desk:
In the midst of sadness, remember your death.
In the midst of joy, remember your death.
In the midst of disappointment, remember your death.
In the midst of pain, remember your death.
In the midst of the celebration, remember your death. #mementomori
— Sr. Theresa Aletheia (@pursuedbytruth) February 13, 2018
Today is Ash Wednesday. There is no better day of the year to reflect on our death than today.
There are two possible outcomes in meditating on our death:
1. We lose hope.
We are going to die. What meaning or purpose is there in anything we do in life?
2. We are motivated to change the way we live each day.
Faced with a realization of our own mortality, we recognize the need to love the present moment because it may be all we have.
For the Christian this also means conversion. “Return to me with your whole heart” we hear in the first reading from the prophet Joel at Ash Wednesday masses. By reflecting on our death, we recognize the need to turn to the Lord to be with us both now and at the hour of our death.
Remember we are dust. We are made of the same material as everyone else.
. . . and to dust we shall return. Our time here is limited, but we hold out hope in Christ that just as we offer up our suffering as a gift to him, he will share the gift of his glory with us.