Thursday, August 26, 2010

Memento mori




I have been thinking of death constantly. My own death. The death of friends and family. I can't get it off my mind. And it's scary.

I've suffered a series of disappointments lately, and their net effect has been to pull the rug out from under my notion of my own apostolic calling. If I cannot dare great things for the kingdom of God, if I cannot be the Pauline of work, study and action that Blessed Alberione lays out for me as a path in life, then who am I? The answer is obvious, and lay before me all the time: I am a mortal being, and death is my lot.

I've always known this, and Death has been my secret shadow forever. In 8th grade, we had to do an English project on a theme in literature, and I chose death. I once sat at a meeting of a parish women's group discussing a theme for an upcoming retreat we were sponsoring. Let's make the theme "death", I suggested. That flag got no salutes at all.

Then there is my own experience with death, in the form of seeing people I love dearly depart from this life. Lately, more and more. Three friends died this year. One, I was able to be with the evening that she passed. One, I was exchanging email with to see about getting together for lunch, when I heard her name called at Mass in the prayer for the dead. My loud gasp made heads turn.

What preys on me, oddly enough, is my material possessions. My books, my papers, all the chaos of my life. I don't want to leave behind objects that will cause my loved ones pain. As far as I'm concerned, God should have made it so that when we die, all of our material objects just crumble into dust and disappear. So that nobody has to sift through them and make decisions about disposition.

My mother cleared out all but the most essential accoutrements of her life a couple of years before she died. She told us all to come look through the attic and the basement and get anything we wanted, because she was getting rid of everything. She did us a service.

Memento mori.
Why why should I the World be minding, Therein a World of Evils Finding. Then Farwell World: Farwell thy jarres, thy Joies thy Toies thy Wiles thy Warrs. Truth Sounds Retreat: I am not sorye. The Eternall Drawes to him my heart, By Faith (which can thy Force Subvert) To Crowne me (after Grace) with Glory.

1 comment:

Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp said...

Rae, best part is your disappointment is mine as well (as Paul may have said and I agree being not only the body of Christ but the body of Paul! as Paulines). In reality I don't think you are dis-appointed because as Paul's wrote - once chosen always chosen. Death - yes - dying to self. Another Pauline reality - "I die daily, I do!" wrote Paul - until it is no longer I but Christ who lives! (Gal. 2:20). What to say...you spoke to other sisters about your dream - I share this dream - I believe it still exists. I hope we can talk about it still - and our Provincial is open to hearing about and sharing the dream. What is our dream - may it be God's dream for us. Together I hope we can build the House (as Alberione put it so often) and grow.