Sunday, November 15, 2009

Timor Mortis Conturbat Me

A central tenet of my book, A Little Guide for Your Last Days, is that popular culture does its level best to distract us from the fact of our mortality.

Daniel Mitsui does a great service to anyone who is paying attention this month, November, the month of the holy souls. He is staring straight at the realities that so many spend so much time and money trying to avoid. Case in point, a phrase that was common in medieval poetry, timor mortis conturbat me, "the fear of death disturbs me."

Unlike that jingle we all learned from our college English professors, "carpe diem," this phrase was much more on the tongues and in the hearts and minds of the medieval person. Birth, aging, and death were daily and unavoidable realities, unlike today in which all three are dutifully (and profitably) hidden from normal sight.

Let us remember the One Who gives us - on loan - being, our ontology, as philosophers call it, and begin the arduous work of living into our mortality. I am, if you will permit, an ersatz apostle to those who say with honesty, "the fear of death disturbs me." Those who have the fortitude not to fear death, God bless thee.

But for those who do, and for those who will but do not yet, be comforted. And pick up a copy of A Little Guide for Your Last Days. It is not a sin to feel fear (think about Our Lord in Gethsemane, after all).

UPDATE: My brother-in-arms, Aramis, wrote those words above my book's image in the right sidebar ("Soon to be on the Best Seller Book List").
Timor mortis conturbat me is why it never will be.

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