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.
The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will confer the ministries of catechist, lector, and acolyte upon lay men and