Friday, November 02, 2018

All Souls Day and Preparing for Death is the release date for a rather edgy new book from Pauline Books & Media: Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Journal, prepared by Sr Theresa Aletheia during her year of daily Twitter posts according to the age-old #mementomori tradition.

Following the example of the saints (including our Founder, Blessed James Alberione), Sister Aletheia put a skull on her desk as a daily reminder that this life is moving toward a definite finish line, a point that is unknown to us but for which we can still prepare.

While I was in the United Arab Emirates for the ACYC, one of the speakers, Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra, Australia, told the assembly (of almost 1500!) his "memento mori" vocation story: From age 8 to 18, he crossed through a cemetery to get to and from school. That twice-daily trek taught him, he says, "Life is short. Death is certain. And eternity is v-e-r-y long." In that light, any thought of dedicating his life to something as short-term as money or fame went totally out of the window. He found himself drawn to a life that would be in line with the eternal framework he was learning from his neighbors along the walk to school.

This morning during the annual Mass for the deceased members of the Pauline Family (celebrated in the community burial chapel), Father Mike Harrington of the Pauline Institute of Jesus the Priest commented that for many people preparing for death nowadays ought to include arrangements for prayers to be offered after our death. His parishioners cannot count on their non-practicing children or grandchildren to understand the importance of a funeral Mass or the place of prayers for the repose of the souls of the departed. He recommends making "advance directives" very clear in this regard: to specify that you want a funeral Mass to be offered, and possibly also to have Masses offered for the repose of your soul each year on the anniversary of death.

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I have recently updated my healthcare proxy form, naming a different sister as my proxy (after transfer season, it just makes it easier if my proxy is nearby!); this is the form I use to make sure that medical decisions are guided by Catholic principles. It would be an easy enough thing to do to include with this form wishes for "after care" (in the strictest sense!) so that these desires are readily available in case of emergency. (Make sure that your proxy, family and primary care provider all have copies of the signed and witnessed document.)

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