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“Memento Mori” Calls Us to Live in Death

To remember one’s death is, in short, a way of life. —Muriel Spark (Memento Mori) It is unusual in our culture to live in the knowledge and expectation of our deaths. I was struck by this in my own life when I attended my first All Souls’ Day Requiem Mass five years ago. I was fascinated by the sight of the catafalque—the rectangular wooden box covered by a black pall—that was displayed in the aisle with candles during the Mass. It calls to mind the future that awaits us all. I had never contemplated death so vividly before that moment, but the realization that my own body would be in a wooden box one day while the faithful in the pews prayed for my soul was inescapable.

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