Memento Mori

“Death. To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish.”
To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies.
To become extinct.
Curtains, deceased, demised, departed and defunct.
Dead as a doornail. Dead as a herring.
Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits.
The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep.
God’s way of saying, “Slow down.”
To check out.
To shuffle off this mortal coil.
To head for the happy hunting ground.
To blink for an exceptionally long period of time.
To find oneself without breath.
– To be the incredible decaying man. – Worm buffet.
– Kick the bucket. – Buy the farm.
– Take the cab. – Cash in your chips.
And if we bury you ass up, we have a place to park my bike.
– Patch Adams (The movie, not the guy – well, maybe the guy, too)

It’s unfortunate, but it seems that the emo/goth/whatever crowd gets to have a bit of a corner on the market of talking about death. Death is an interesting subject. The St. Benedict advised his followers 1500 years ago (long before the advent of modern teen angst) to “keep death always before you.” I’m Catholic, so I have for years had ashes put on my head to the words Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return (In Latin, Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris). Death isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the plan.

Luckily, the Catholic Church long ago also rejected the idea that this life is meaningless and just a time to endure as we wait to be with God. Sure, the Beatific Vision is the end goal, but we have been given a great gift in this life, and I firmly believe that God wants us to make the best of our time on earth – both to enjoy the life he has given us and to improve the world and the situation of man.

It’s always a good idea to think of the course of life and what we’ve done and not (and what we want to do). With that in mind, I’ve decided to present to the world (well, to my reader – yes, that was singular) my bucket list! As an added bonus, I’m including some comments on many of them for anyone who cares.

Editor’s Note: For those of you who want to read what I originally wrote, here, I am leaving it. However, if you want to actually see my bucket list, look at the page that is devoted to My Bucket List.

Things to learn:

  1. Play the violin (do it right)
  2. Another language (I really want to learn Latin the rest of the way – more than High School Latin, but a language that may actually be usable in the secular world would be nice, too.)
  3. Paint (I’ve done lots of dabbling, but learning the rest of the techniques to do something special would be great)
  4. Learn to fence
  5. Learn to play the banjo (just because – it’s a much maligned instrument)

Places to go

  1. Visit The Holy Land
  2. Visit Japan
  3. Visit Sicily and Naples (My grandfather and grandmother were from those cities respectively)
  4. Visit the Vatican for more than a few hours (I went when I was in high school on a student tour, but I want to really spend some time there)
  5. Visit Alaska (The part that’s out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve actually seriously considered trying to go to seminary for one of the Diocese up there. I have to believe that the serenity of the landscape there would facilitate some great meditation time)
  6. Cross Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad
  7. Visit St. Petersburg Russia for more than a day (I want to see Peter the Great’s oddity collection and the Rasputin grave)
  8. Visit the Great Wall of China

Things to do

  1. Ride in a hot air balloon (I think the peace in one of those must be wonderful)
  2. Publish a book (Everyone says this one. I already have mine written. I just need to get off my butt and take the next step.)
  3. Go on a Cruise
  4. Speak at a major event (Like NCYC, etc.)

People to meet

  1. Meet a sitting Pope (Hey – I can dream, can’t I?)
  2. That might be it – Celebrities never really did it for me. I just like the idea of meeting a Pope.

Stupid things that may bring a premature mori

  1. Go Skydiving

Pipe Dreams (Ceci n’est pas une pipe)

  1. Attend the Olympics
  2. Go into Space


  1. Slow dance in the middle of a crowded city street
  2. Be an extra in a movie

Some former items that WERE on my list, but I was blessed to get to do them

  1. Visit Russia
  2. Learn to SCUBA dive (I’ve actually been certified since I was too young to make a bucket list, but this WOULD be on there if I weren’t.)
  3. Live in New York City (I’d love to do more visiting, but I like to be able to escape too much)
  4. Visit many museums (Louvre, Uffizi, British Museum, Hermitage, etc.)

If I’m honest, I’m almost certain there are more, but I just cannot recall.

People who know me better may wonder why there’s a notable absence of things like “get ordained.” There’s a reason for that. I never did want to be a priest – and now it is my life’s focus. That is not because I suddenly “want” to do that. It’s more because I feel confident that God wants me to. There’s a comment among bishops that “No man knows he is called to be a priest until I lay my hands on his head.” That’s the case here. It’s not on my list because it is entirely out of my hands. I am following that path for now. If it ends up not the path I’m truly meant to be on, it will not be something that is empty in my life, but rather a path that God never intended.

As for the rest of them, that’s the list. We’ll see what happens.

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