This Advent, although short, has already been exceptional. During these three weeks, a friend, who I knew during my studies in Warsaw, died of cancer; during mass with a great crowd of people, I remembered Fr. Jan Góra, a very famous Dominican on the second anniversary of his death; and above all, with my whole Society, I experienced the death of Mariola Vera, who has been struggling with leukaemia these recent months. The way she lived through her illness shows how united she was with Jesus, who was close to her up to the last days. On the Spanish website you will find a letter that she wrote to the her Province a few days before her death.
All these things reminded me of the symbolism often used while writing icons. In the Nativity scene, little Jesus is wrapped in the way in which the dead were formerly buried, or is even lying in something resembling a coffin or grave. This should show that Jesus was born to die, and he died so that we could have life. These two mysteries – life and death – meet and complement each other. It is a paradox that accompanies the entire Incarnation, because when the Almighty God becomes a defenceless child, we feel that it goes beyond our human understanding of reality.
These days, I remind myself that “memento mori” are not words that should fill us with fear of eternal hell, but which should put our lives in the right light. St. Ignatius, as one of the methods of making decisions, proposes to imagine yourself at the moment of death and ask yourself if it would be the best choice from this perspective. Maybe it would be good to look at the coming days from the perspective of eternity. Will it still be important that there will be good food and clean curtains? Or maybe something else will emerge from our priorities then?