Memento mori

Remember that you too shall one day die…

We come to the end of the time of Lent on Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorating the Passover Seder meal Jesus shared with his disciples beginning with the washing of the disciple’s feet by their Master and Lord. On that evening Jesus was aware that he was soon to die. In the coming solemn days of the Triduum, having cleansed our hearts, we turn our attention to the contemplation of the work Jesus took upon himself, of taking away the sins of the world.

For us, when Lent began 42 days prior on Ash Wednesday we heard the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return“.

At the start of Lent the news of the coronavirus and its deadly consequences spreading from China was already making headlines around the world. As of Ash Wednesday (February 26) at least 2,800 people had died from the disease. And as of today (April 8) another 80,000 have died since then. The numbers, as sad and sorrowful as they are, are not the important thing to focus on however. Remembering that each of us will join them one day, is important.

Some believe such thinking is morbid. And it would be if only few of us ever died. It seems that is the way most of us live our lives, as if we will not die soon or someday we can imagine. Each day we awake brings us one day closer to that final day. And so we don’t think about it. It’s too ‘morbid’. Nevertheless, the mortality rate for any human born on the surface of planet earth remains unchanged at 100%.

We grieve for those who have died, and it is right; especially for those we knew in life, our family members and loved ones, even our pets. Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazaraus. In his first letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul admonishes us, though, to not grieve ‘as the pagans’ do, as those who have no hope. Easter is the sacramental center of that hope, and the true final end of our annual Lenten journey. It is good to also remember that the liturgical Easter season lasts for 50 days ending with Pentecost, the ‘birthday’ of the Church where the hope of the faithful is nourished as we gather, some daily, some weekly, to celebrate the presence of God with us in bread/flesh and wine/blood.

As we remain in our isolation over these days we also deeply long to gather together again at the altar/table of our risen Lord.

Blessings to one and all!

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