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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lenten Meditation: Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return!

We prayed our rosary today in an old cemetery. There were so many graves of little children from the 19th century: a brother and sister who were a toddler and a newborn, a teenage girl and her 9-year-old brother who drowned, the grave of a little one who died after a few days with the gravestone message, "Budded on earth, bloomed in heaven."

We saw at least a dozen graves of confederate soldiers and sailors some who clearly died in the war and others who lived to tell about it. There were graves of men and women taken in the prime of life and two graves of women who were nearly 100 when they died. They were the exception.

We prayed our usual intentions for family and friends both living and dead and for all those buried in the cemetery as well. Walking through a cemetery is a sobering experience. Nothing is guaranteed: not tomorrow, not next week, not the next minute. As Fr. James Buckley reminds retreatants during his Ignatian retreats, he once saw a gravestone in an English cemetery that read, "What you are I once was, what I am you will be." There is nothing more certain than death and judgment.

Each of us would do well to reflect on death, especially during Lent. The Church urges us to think often about the four last things: death, judgment, heaven or hell. There are saints who made their examination of conscience at the end of the day imagining themselves in hell and asking, "What did you do today, poor soul, to land you in this evil place?" Not a bad idea for people who don't want to go there.

Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apropos of your thoughts, please don't miss watching the funeral Mass celebrated by Fr Paul Scalia for Antonin. The beauty of the Novus Ordo -- it was the kind of service Hollywood would have once written. Especially because of the sermon that had it all -- the four last things, God, gratitude, love, mercy, fatherhood, the Communion of Saints.... And in DC of all places. I suggest you take 15 minutes to watch it yourself. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cIq1fYzMhcc

And don't miss the clerical procession standing on the Basilica steps singing (spontaneously?) the Salve Regina. (At 2:43.30 of the full Mass link below. ) Father Paul lifted the Mass and the priesthood that morning. I don't doubt that the many priests in attendance were brought to the humble remembrance of their role in guiding souls toward mystery and eternity and that theCatholic Church knows unquestionably how to do that. Here's the link:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xHdqGtYJegg


Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for the link. I will. He was a great man.