Friday, November 11, 2022

Memento mori: for Catholic Answers

Catholic Answers published this of mine at the beginning of November.

Yesterday began the Church’s month of the dead. We remember those who have died, and this should stimulate us to keep our own deaths in mind. Today, on All Souls’ Day, I wish to focus on the latter activity: the remembrance of death, associated with the artistic theme of the memento mori, a visual reminder of death.

Memento mori literally means “remember” (a command) “to die” (an infinitive)—that is, “remember that you, the onlooker, will die.” It is a pithy restatement of the words of the priest who places ashes on the foreheads of the people on Ash Wednesday: “Memento homo quia pulvis est et pulverem reverteris.” (“Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”)
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