The Essentials of Spirituality
A second condition of the spiritual life has been expressed in the precept, reiterated in many religions, by many experts in things relating to the life of the soul: "Live as if this hour were thy last." You will recall, as I pronounce these words, the memento mori of the Ancients, their custom of exhibiting a skeleton at the feast, in order to remind the banqueters of the fate that awaited them. You will remember the other-worldliness of Christian monks and ascetics who decried this pleasant earth as a vale of tears, and endeavored to fix the attention of their followers upon the pale joys of the Christian heaven, and you will wonder, perhaps, that I should be harking back to these conceptions of the past. I have, however, no such intention.
The prevailing attitude toward the thought of death is that of studied neglect. Men wish to face it as little as possible. We know, of course, what the fate is that awaits us. We know what are the terms of the compact. Now and again we are