MEMENTO MORI is the Latin for “Remember your death.” Three important men of the past reminded us of this.
- St. Ignatius of Loyola encouraged and inspired us through his example of imaging himself on his death bed before making a choice in life. He was the founder of the movement that led to the existence of many universities throughout the world (including Gonzaga and Georgetown).
- Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher, said: “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”
- Socrates, the Greek philosopher, also summoned us to the reflection on our mortality. Knowing death is our destiny, why are we so surprised when someone dies?
One benefit of facing one’s death is to live well today. Living well is the best practice for dying well. Montaigne, a French writer, said, “To practice death is to practice freedom.”
Since no one escapes death, if we are ready to die then death is no longer an enemy. Ready to die for me means being ready to live with maximum joy and purpose right here right now. This is called the precious present, and time is a gift.
Facing imminent death for me occurred in 2010. At an oncology center, I asked, “Doctor, I want to know the truth…no B.S… I want to know how long I have to live.” My doctor said, “I give you three years.” Now, these past ten years of oncology clinic visits have become reality checks of my mortality.
MOMENTO MORI has become a daily reality for me. The result is nearly supernatural optimism and joy to be alive right here right now. Life is precious, and heaven is more real.
Jesus also looked forward to the future. “For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
We also can do what we do for the joy waiting for us! Jesus conquered death for us!