Over the past couple of weeks as I have packed up and prepared to move I have found myself frequently thinking back over these past 3 years and the many lessons I learned in that time. There is no doubt, I am the person and the priest I am today because of these past three years. I have learned a lot over these past 3 years, but perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned can be summarized by the Latin phrase memento mori, (remember that you will die).
While that may seem kind of morbid, death has been a part of most of my days here at Queen of All Saints. While no death is routine, and one never adjusts to death, I’m grateful it has been a part of my daily life because it has changed my entire perspective on life. You see before coming here I was so caught up in the present I never stopped to ponder what comes next. I was so wrapped up in this world that I easily forgot my actions now determine my eternal destiny. Up until a couple of years ago I was working so hard to make sure I wasn’t taking anything for granted that I failed to realize I was taking heaven for granted. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, but I was leaving the most import thing, my eternal salvation for granted. Up until a couple of years ago I was so caught up in setting myself up for the future that I failed to realize there may be no future because my life could end today.
If your life is anything like mine, we are so busy. We seem only to have time to focus on the task at hand without ever taking a moment to look to the future. But if we don’t stop for a moment and ponder the future, we will never get where we want to go. Just think about it; if you were going to travel somewhere wouldn’t you figure out where that place was before leaving? Why should it be any different with our lives?
I think if we are honest with ourselves all of us will admit that at times it can be so easy for us to get caught up in the day to day life that we take the most important things in our life for granted. Think about everything that you do. Don’t you always do something for a purpose? Well what is the purpose of your life? Why do you do what you do? What is the ultimate goal that you are working for? My prayer is that in the past three years I have helped you realize that hopefully the purpose of life is to spend eternity with God forever. I hope I have invited you to take a step back and recognize that “our first step in sanctity is realizing that nothing in life is worth so much as our becoming saints.” My time with you has taught me that our death is simply too important to forget about. So if I were to leave you with one piece of advice it would be simple. Memento mori and recall that you are called to be a saint.
I have shared these before, but I think to memento mori we daily need to ask ourselves 3 simple questions. 1. If I passed away right now, and someone told my whole life story are there certain things I wish they would leave out? Now don’t forget everyone loves a redemption story. The truth is “no one is strong enough to travel the entire path of salvation unaided. All have sinned, all need the Lord’s mercy, the love of the crucified one.” This question isn’t focused on past mistakes it’s focused on making sure I have resolved past mistakes. 2. If I passed away right now and someone was going through my belongings are there things I hope they wouldn’t find? 3. If I passed away right now, are there any relationships in my life that I wish I would have straightened out? If we answer yes to any of those questions, then perhaps we are not ready for death.
So, then I’ll leave you with one question. If you died today would you go to heaven?
 Albert Joseph Mary Shamon. Three Steps to Sanctity. Oak Lawn: CMJ Marian Publishers and Distributors (1993) pg. 1.
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Jesus of Nazareth Part II. San Francisco: Ignatius Press,2011. Pg 151 – 152.