Memento Mori “Remember Death!”

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The Four Last Things and the Seven Deadly Sins - by BOSCH, Hieronymus - from Museo del Prado, Madrid . . . . . . .
The circular layout with God in the centre represents God's all seeing eye: No sin goes unnoticed. In the corners
of the image appear the "Four Last Things" (the last four stages of life): Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

 

The active study of the four last things
and the deep consideration of them,
is the thing that will keep you from sin.

--Saint Thomas More

 

 Memento Mori “Remember Death!”


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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Death is certain. But, O God, this truth Christians know, this they believe and see: and how can they still live so forgetful of death as if they are never to die? If after this life there were neither Hell nor Heaven, could they think less of it than they do at present? It is this forgetfulness that makes them lead so wicked a life. My brother, if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes. O death, thy sentence is welcome. Oh! How correct the judgments, how well directed the actions, of the man whose judgments are formed, and whose conduct is regulated in view of death! "Consider the end of life," says Saint Laurence Justinian, "and you will love nothing in this world." All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, of the eyes and the pride of life. All the goods of this earth are reduced to the pleasures of sense, to riches and to honors. But all these are easily despised by the man who considers that he will be soon reduced to ashes, and buried in the earth to be the food of worms.

And in reality it was at the sight of death that the saints despised all the goods of this earth. Saint Charles Borromeo kept on his table a skull, in order that he might continually contemplate it. Cardinal Baronius had inscribed on his ring the words, Memento mori - remember death! The Venerable Juvenal Ancina, Bishop of Saluzzo, had this motto written on a skull: "What you are, I was; and what I am, you shall be." A holy hermit being asked when dying how he could be so cheerful, said: "I have always kept death before my eyes; and, therefore, now that it has arrived, I see nothing new in it."

What folly would it not be for a traveler to think only of acquiring dignities and possessions in the countries through which he had to pass, thereby reducing himself to the necessity of living miserably in his native land, where he must remain all his life! And is not he a fool who seeks after happiness in this world, where he will remain only a few days, and exposes himself to the risk of being unhappy in the next, where he must live for eternity? We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All the goods of this earth are lent to us; it is folly to set our heart on what we must soon quit. Death shall strip us of them all. The acquisitions and fortunes of this world all terminate in a dying gasp, in a funeral, in a descent into the grave. The house which you have built for yourself you must soon give up to others. The grave will be the dwelling of your body till the day of judgment; thence it will go to Heaven or to Hell, whither the soul will have gone before.

 

Prayer

Then, at death, all shall be at an end for me. I shall find only the little I have done for Thee, O my God! And what do I wait for! Do I wait till death comes to find me as miserable and defiled with sin as I am at present? Were I now called to eternity I should die with great disquietude on account of my past sins. No, my Jesus; I will not die so discontented. I thank Thee for having given me time to weep over my iniquities, and to love Thee. I wish to begin from this moment. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for having offended Thee, O Sovereign Good! I love Thee above all things - I love Thee more than my life. My Jesus! I give myself entirely to Thee. From this moment I embrace and unite Thee to my heart. I now consign my soul to Thee. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit. I will not wait to give it to Thee when that proficiscere -”Depart, O soul” - will announce my departure from this world. I will not wait till then to ask Thee to save me.  Who knows but this consideration which I have read may be the last call which Thou wilt give me, and the last mercy which Thou wilt show me? Extend Thy hand, O my love, and deliver me from the mire of my tepidity.

O Mary! through the love which thou bearest to thy Jesus, obtain for me these two graces - perseverance and love.

Amen