Brother, Remember Your Death

I recently had the delight of receiving and reading through Emily M. DeArdo’s book Living Memento Mori: My Journey Through the Stations of the Cross. The “memento mori phenomenon” has been going on for a while now and this is a great addition to it (if you’ve not heard of this at all, check out Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P. on Twitter). This book goes through the 14 Stations of the Cross and includes an Epilogue on Jesus’s Resurrection combining reflections on the Stations with reflection’s on Emily’s own life with cystic fibrosis.

Emily has a beautiful way of telling the story of all the players in the Stations of Cross in a new and refreshing way. Have you ever considered that Simon of Cyrene was a tired traveler who came to Jerusalem from Africa for Passover and then was pressed into helping carry the cross? Emily does and then she considers what that meant for Jesus to accept that help and how that informs our lives.

One of the most touching stories Emily shares is actually in this chapter, too, at least in my opinion. She recounts how she and some friends spent New Years Eve in New York City and how they visited the Empire State Building. Cystic Fibrosis messes with your lungs and makes it hard to breathe, so you can imagine that climbing all of those flights of stairs would be quite a challenge for her! After a couple flights, she could go no more and sat down in the stairwell, defeated, while her friends went ahead. In a touching twist, one of her friends came back for her and carried her the rest of the way. This story so powerfully demonstrates the importance of community and bearing each others burdens (cf. Galatians 6:2).

This story also reminded me of a similar experience I had in the Empire State Building when I was a freshman in high school; just replace cystic fibrosis with extreme claustrophobia.

Maybe you don’t live every day in the shadow of death– most of us don’t! But Emily’s reflections and wisdoms are so poignant. She will help you understand this suffering and nearness to death in a way that will help you live more fully. Don’t miss out on this wonderful (and easy to read) book.

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