Memento Mori: Who Do I Want to Be at the Hour of my Death?

(3 minute read)

When I turned 50, I met with my doctor for my annual appointment and he said, “Now that you’re middle-aged…” I didn’t let him finish. “Let’s face it,” I said. “I’m not living to 100, so I am solidly past middle age!”

It’s not easy to face the fact that we will die, and that fact becomes more and more present as we get older. Here’s where our Catholic faith can help. We have a tradition called Memento Mori, which means, “Remember You Will Die.” This is reality. It’s not morbid. It helps us live the way we should live because our transition from this life to the next is inevitable. And the next life is for eternity. We definitely want to think about where we end up for all time.

As I face the reality of my own death, I think about who I want to be at that moment. I absolutely want to end up happy in heaven with God forever!

You know those stereotypes of the grumpy old man, or the grandma who has no filter? I don’t want to be like that. I want to be peaceful. I want to be grateful. I want to be cheerful and loving and fun to be around. So, what do I have to do now? I have to practice!

Seems more likely than if I don’t have the habit of virtue.

Several years ago, my mom was in an intersection, looked over to an SUV coming, running the red light, and said, “My Jesus, mercy!” (Miraculously, my mom walked away though the car was totaled.) My godfather’s mother died with a rosary in her hand. A friend’s father died several hours after a severe fall. When they found him at the bottom of the stairs, he was unresponsive, but reciting the Hail Mary over and over. I want to be like them: the kind of person who faces death with a prayer on my lips. That means I have to practice! I need to pray without ceasing so that whenever I die or am close to death, prayer comes to mind.

The Hail Mary is an awesome prayer when we think about our death since the prayer ends with the petition, “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” The thought of Mother Mary by my side praying for me at the hour of my death is super comforting.

St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death. St. Joseph had Jesus and Mary at his deathbed. I can’t think of a happier way to go, can you?

Good News for Families for November 2022 offers practical suggestions for practicing memento mori in your family the month. 

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us now and be with us at the hour of our death. Help us to remember we will die and to live now so as to be ready to live with the Holy Trinity and the angels and saints in heaven forever. Amen.

Written by Kathy DeVet


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