Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Momento Mori: A Reminder of the Things We Forgot

With entire states and nations on lockdown and Mass closed to the public, I find this time to be a reminder of what we’ve lost sight of. As COVID-19 runs rampant, we learned that we human beings cannot solve all of our own problems. Through our own actions or the acts of another, we can cause harm to ourselves and each other. All of the factional fights we’ve had seems trivial when compared to the realization that we are finite beings who are need of salvation that is beyond our control. 

If we think of it that way with a physical ailment that might eventually have a medical cure, we ought to also consider our predicament in our spiritual life. If we are so concerned with what harms the body, we should also consider what harms the soul. 

I don’t say that in the sense of a gnostic who scorns the physical. Pandemics are serious if left unchecked after all. And, as we are all possessors of a physical body, whatever afflicts it can cause discomfort, pain, or even agony. Things we are not wrong in wanting to be safe from. The Church certainly recognizes the importance of prayer. Even the secular media isn’t sneering recently when the Pope announces Prayer and Fasting for the end of the affliction.

But after giving the proper care for our health, we have to remember that all of the physical suffering in this life will end at death. But life goes on after death. What happens to us after death will be an eternal state. The state of our souls is afflicted with the pandemic of sin. If it is left uncured, we can die of it, whether sins we choose to commit and sins of others that can lead us into sin.

Therefore the real threat of physical death should also lead us to consider the the real threat to the state of our souls. People need to consider the four last things—Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven—in how we live. There is a Latin adage: Tempus fugit. Momento Mori. “Time is fleeting. Remember Death.”

I could die of COVID-19. I could die of an accident. I could die of any number of things no matter how careful I am. So could you. So perhaps while we’re practicing social isolation, unable to avail ourselves of the sacraments, we should use this time to reflect on where we stand before the Lord. Regardless of what human physicians can do with the pandemic, we do have a Divine Physician for the sin pandemic.

So let us pray to Him for grace to repent and to make a perfect act of contrition in case we should die before we can receive the Sacrament of Penance. And, in case we should live, let us prepare ourselves for when we can receive the sacraments again. 

Let us remember these things, so however we approach life will prepare us for the life after death.

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