Why We Say “Memento Mori”

You may have heard the phrase memento mori (remember your death)—especially if you hang out with those strange Catholics—but did you know there are three meanings woven into those two words?

Sure, the immediate thought that comes to mind may be the fact that someday we will die; and this is good to remember because that day could be any day, so we should live accordingly.

What people may not recognize, though, is that memento mori could also be a reminder to the Christian that we have died to ourselves, so that we may gain eternal life in Christ.

As St. Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The life you live is not your own. Remember, as a Christian you have died to yourself. Entering your day with that in mind may be difficult if you want to live for yourself, but it could also be liberating if we give everything to God.

Thirdly, it is good to “remember your death” because it is a reminder of the joy that will come when we live with Christ for eternity. Remembering our death in that way can fill us with the strongest kind of hope.

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