Remember Your Death

Remembering your death is a deeply personal practice that can bring complex emotions to the surface. For this reason, it is important to thoughtfully integrate memento mori into your spiritual life. To aid you in this journey, the Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Journal has daily prompts for reflection activities and journaling; it is a companion resource that you can use to respond to these prompts. The journal includes inspiring, original memento mori quotes as well as quotes from Scripture, Church Fathers, and the saints. The companion journal also contains a section of prayers related to memento mori. Whether you use the companion journal or not, it would be helpful to respond to the daily prompts in order to truly welcome the practice of memento mori into both your head and heart.

As you integrate memento mori into your life, you will find more fruit in the practice if you are also able to connect with those in the community of the Church who are on the same journey. Talk with family and close friends about your journey. Share some of your reflections and reactions with the wider online community with the hashtags #mementomori and #livemementomori. Death is the fate of every human being, but as Christians we also share the same hope of eternal life. Together on life’s journey, we can help one another both to keep our death in mind and our eyes on Jesus.

“The Memento Mori journal reminds us to keep death always before us so we can truly live.”

Haley Stewart, author of The Grace of Enough
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Death is Not the End

Memento mori or “remember your death” is a phrase that has been long associated with the practice of remembering the unpredictable and inevitable end of one’s life. The spiritual practice of memento mori and the symbols and sayings associated with it were particularly popular in the medieval church. But the tradition of remembering one’s death stretches back to the very beginning of salvation history.

After the first sin, God reminds Adam and Eve of their mortality: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). God’s words continue to echo throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, reminding readers of life’s brevity, while exhorting them to remember their death.

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The Book of Sirach urges, “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin” (7:36). The Psalmist prays, “Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (Ps 90:12).

In the New Testament, Jesus exhorts his disciples to pick up their crosses daily and to remember their death as they follow him to the Place of the Skull: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).

Background

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble is the at the forefront of the revival of the ancient practice of memento mori. She took inspiration from Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline order, who kept a skull on his desk to remind him of death. During a spiritual retreat in 2017, Sr. Theresa Aletheia received a ceramic skull from one of her sisters and began meditating on death each day. The first day, she tweeted “Day 1 with a skull on my desk” with a random thought. She thought nothing of it. However, this tweet provoked a large response, so she decided to continue. She has continued ever since and now has been tweeting about Memento Mori for over a year.

“Lord, let me know my end, and the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is!”
—Psalm 39:4