Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Ash Wednesday: Memento Mori!

Remember Death.  This is the ancient form of the more recent formula, “Remember O man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return!” as the ashes are being distributed.  This invocation typically is suppose to remind us of our eventual death due to the effects of Original Sin.  That being said, there is an even more ancient tradition that we should consider during this Lenten season.

Tertullian, in his work entitled, Apologeticus, shares that “Memento Mori! was whispered in the ear of the conquering general by his servant in ancient Rome.  This was to remind the general that while he celebrates his victory and is acclaimed by the people, that he is still a man and he will one day succumb to death.

We many times need to be reminded during Lent that we are meant for more than just death.  Christ is our victory!  As we enter into battle against the flesh, world and the devil during our Lenten exercises, our strength comes from the victory of the cross.  It is the apparent humiliation and finality of the cross that the world looks views.  The Christian, however, sees the cross as the consummation of the Bridegroom with His Bride the Church.  Here the Church is born, the wedding vows are actualized, the marriage becomes eternal.

This Lent let us remember that we are “more than conquerors” in Christ, the Captain of our Salvation (Hebrews 2:8-10)  and that His death on the cross has gained us our eternal reward.

Philippe de Champaigne's Vanitas (c. 1671) is reduced to three essentials: Life, Death, and Time

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