Memento mori.

Via the Laudator:

Epictetus, Discourses 3.5.5-6 (tr. W.A. Oldfather):

Do you not know that disease and death needs must overtake us, no matter what we are doing? They overtake the farmer at his work in the fields, the sailor on the sea. What do you wish to be doing when it overtakes you? For no matter what you do you will have to be overtaken by death. If you have anything better to be doing when you are so overtaken, get to work on that.

οὐκ οἶδας, ὅτι καὶ νόσος καὶ θάνατος καταλαβεῖν ἡμᾶς ὀφείλουσίν τί ποτε ποιοῦντας; τὸν γεωργὸν γεωργοῦντα καταλαμβάνουσι, τὸν ναυτικὸν πλέοντα. σὺ τί θέλεις ποιῶν καταληφθῆναι; τί ποτε μὲν γὰρ ποιοῦντά σε δεῖ καταληφθῆναι. εἴ τι ἔχεις τούτου κρεῖσσον ποιῶν καταληφθῆναι, ποίει ἐκεῖνο.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tom in NY says:

    Περι …η της ωρας οδεις οιδεν…
    Lc. 13:32.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  2. Kerry says:

    Perhaps this tale is familiar…Supposedly three monks were discussing where they would like to be when “The Lord comes again in His glory”. The first, “I should like to be praying the Holy Offices”. The second, “I would like to be at altar in adoration”. The third, “Uh what time might that be?”… “What do you mean, what time? Alright, three o’clock this afternoon.” “Then”, says the third, “I would like to be hoeing in the garden”. “What! Hoeing…?!” “Yes”, says the third, “That’s where I am supposed to be at three o’clock”. Heh.

  3. elizabeth00 says:

    This reminds me of St Philip Neri’s maxim, “We must not be behind time in doing good, for death will not be behind in his time.”

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Those of us who are older have had a taste of death via various serious illnesses, deaths of friends and family, separations, loss of jobs, loss of earthly goods, loss of status, etc.. I think as a Catholic, one should see one’s entire life on earth as not only a preparation for death, but a participation in eternity even now-either as purgatorial suffering or, as the Lord wills, glimpses of glory.

    I love your story, as it points out the importance of holy obedience. If one is doing what one should be doing, God can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  5. MarkJ says:

    This morning I woke up and at 6:23 and the thought entered my head to read Romans 6:23. And here’s what it says: “For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is clear that the one thing we do not want to be doing is sinning when we take our last breath. Or to be out of the state of grace, God forbid! Every moment is either an opportunity for grace or a moment lost. Every sin, no matter how small, if we understand sin as the saints have understood it, is to be avoided at all costs. God’s grace within us is either on the increase or on the decrease by what we do. Every sin tears down what God is building up within us. Let us take these grace-filled words of Epictetus to heart, and avail ourselves of each and every moment God has graciously given to us in this life, that our everlasting life may be assured when the moment finally comes to leave this present state.

  6. Poimier says:

    At prayer.

  7. Allan S. says:

    I’m 2 years, 5 months into a cancer with a 4% survival rate at 5 years. So…this is pretty much on my mind a lot. When it comes, I simply ask not to be terrified. I want the sheer terror…which no mature Christian who trusts in God should have…to leave me. I often find myself asking, “If everything is gift, then what kind of gift is this?”

    I simply cannot stomach my own cowardice. I don’t care what I am doing – I just don’t want to be afraid.

    Or survive. That would be good too ;)

  8. MarkJ says:

    Allan S., we will pray for you. God will supply all you need.

  9. I will pray for you not to be afraid, or not to need to be.

    But don’t be too hard on yourself when you fear. Fear is helpful in urging us to fight or flight, just as pain is helpful to warn us not to do hurtful things. Your fear is just your brain and the rest of your body trying to be helpful when it’s not really helping, like a dog that doesn’t know that now isn’t the time to bark a warning. It’s hard to remember that, when you’re in the midst of gutchurning worry; but it’s true. Maybe thinking of your body as Brother Donkey, like St. Francis did, will help a bit (or at least be funny).

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Allan S

    I am a cancer survivor and on cancer meds for four more years. I have no insurance. I cannot afford doctors or specialists. I can identify with your struggle. All I can say is say your daily rosary and keep close to Mary. Also, and this is very hard at first, but gets easier, meditate on the Passion of Christ. He has done it all for us.

    Fear can be replaced with peace, believe me.

  11. Maria says:

    Allan S,
    Please be assured that I will leave a prayer for you before The Blessed Sacrament this evening before I go to our Church for Bible Study at 8.00pm (GMT).

    May The Lord alleviate your fears and replace them with firm Confirmation of His Love, Presence
    and ultimate Healing.

  12. green fiddler says:

    “Our Lord never asks sacrifices from us above our strength.”
    ~ St. Therese

    Peace be with you, Allan S.
    Whenever the time comes for you to return home to the embrace of Our Father, you will
    receive a special grace to be not afraid. This is not dependent on your own strength or
    inner resources, but will be a gift to you from the loving Heart of Jesus through the
    intercession of our Blessed Mother.

    A few times in my life I’ve felt close to that moment. My chronic respiratory illness can result in sudden, total loss of breathing if I’m not very careful to avoid certain triggers. On one of those occasions I began to suffocate and turn blue. As my Mom was quickly driving me to the emergency room, I lost sensation in my hands and started to panic. It felt as if life was draining out of me and, without thinking, I wailed, “Ma, I’m dying!”…

    At that moment we were passing by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at our church. I began to
    pray from my heart and received a beautiful peace. This cannot be conveyed in words, but
    there was a clear understanding that whatever might happen next, I was covered by the
    mercy of our Lord who loves us beyond our wildest imagination. One of the interns who
    tended to me at the ER that day asked how I was able to stay so calm; usually patients at
    that level of distressed breathing are extrememly anxious. “I am praying and trusting in
    God.” This was the grace, a wonderful gift; I believe it may have been an answer the other person needed as well. More beautiful graces were given to me during that hospitalization.

    As we learn to surrender every moment of our lives, the peace of Christ will overwhelm us.
    Then the moment of our death will be our happiest moment, really.
    Keep praying and singing, trusting and rejoicing in our God. I pray for comfort for you and for all who are challenged by an illness. Jesus will never abandon us.

    I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me.
    Philippians 4:13

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