Et in Arcadia ego

I'm currently rereading (revisiting lol) Brideshead and was halted in my tracks by these words, the title of the first part of the book.

Many people around us have COVID, though thankfully none severely. But as we are still adding to the millions of deaths around the world (not a single one of them a statistic...) I remembered that at the earliest stages of the pandemic, I had some hope that the crisis would serve as a global memento mori and bring with it some of the renewal I've felt thinking about my own death.

My and your and everyone's deaths are inevitable and unpredictable. Have you ever imagined yourself on your deathbed? Have you ever thought what it would be like to die suddenly? Tomorrow? Now?

If you offer this fear and anxiety up, what speaks to you? This daily prayerful practice is the purpose of a memento mori.

The most practical benefit, of course, is that it does rather tend to focus you on what's important in life. The relationships with your family, with your friends, with purpose and meaning. I'd be surprised if money, power, pleasure, or social status were at the top of anyone's list. Or blog posts, for that matter (this one is late).

A possible result of such a meditation on what's important in life is that you conclude what millions of before you have concluded: what's truly important is your relationship with Being, in the sense of ipsum esse. And that by ways of logic and conscience you are called to lead an extraordinary life of personal sanctification.

And hence the end result of this, if you do believe in the immortality of the soul (and perhaps even the resurrection of the body), is that contemplating death leads to hope. St Francis of Assisi called it "Sister Death" in the end verses of the Canticle of the Sun, another work worth reading or rereading.

Have hope, everyone! We will get through this, one way... or the other 💀