Thursday, January 24, 2013


  Continuing on in Jeremy Taylor’s book on Holy Dying, he gives some history of how different cultural things were done to remind the rich rulers that life is short; pretty interesting.

  "He that would die well must always look for death, every day knocking at the gates of the grave; and then the gates of the grave shall never prevail upon him to do him mischief. 

This was the advice of all the wise and good men of the world, who especially in the days and periods of their joy and festival egressions would choose to throw some ashes into their chalices, being a somber remembrance of their fatal period.
  Such was the black shirt of Saladine; and the tomb-stone that was presented to the Emperor of Constantinople on his Coronation day; also the Bishop of Rome’s two reeds with flax and a wax-taper. The Egyptian Skeleton served up at feasts; and at Trimalcion’s banquet in which was brought in the image of a dead man’s bones of silver, with spondyles (a mollusk bristling with quills) exactly turning to every guest, and saying to every one, that You and you must die.

  These in fantastic semblances declare a severe counsel and useful meditation; and it is not easy for a man to be gay in his imagination, or to be drunk with joy or wine, pride or revenge, who considers sadly that he must ere long dwell in a house of darkness and dishonor, and his body must be the inheritance of worms, and his Soul must be what he pleases, even as a man makes it here by living good or bad."  


Douglas Abbott said...

This was a bit on the heavy side, but then how can the subject of death be treated lightly?

What I got out of this was that, no doubt because of humanity's skewed perspective, holding our imminent death in view is somehow critical for seizing life urgently. If we remember that we don't have an endless supply of days, we are more likely to use those we have left with more fervor. This is a good reminder. Thanks, Fred.

FCB said...

Yes, this is heavy, it is unlike any book I have ever read, but as I survey my life I find I have need to, occasionally, take in a sobering draught. No question, now that I'm in the "middle age of old age," I listen more intently than when my years spread before me, seemingly without end. I suppose visiting nursing homes over the years is a reminder of how vicious and sudden the end of life comes. Death shows little mercy.
The sobering intent of Taylor all the way through is to remind us of what there is to do and waste not.

Douglas Abbott said...

The illusion of immortality and the comfort-loving flesh get us into a lot of trouble. Hence the saying, "Youth is wasted on the young."