Herculaneum, Memento Mori, and Striking Out Against the Darkness

Today is a somber day.  It’s a day when we remember the 59 million babies aborted since Roe V. Wade.  It’s also a day where we remember their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.  It’s a sad day for many.

Today is a somber day

Last year, I wrote this post about Why We March.  If you want to know why we march, please read that post.  There is no judgement here, only love.

If you regret your abortion, please know God wants to heal you and bring you past that hurt.  He loves you — always has and always will!  For more information on healing, start here.

Like I said, it’s a somber day, and knowing the sober reality of this day, I racked my brain wondering what I should write about.  I mean, light-hearted prose just didn’t seem to fit the bill.  Then I thought about that time we went to Herculaneum.

I know, it seems pretty random, linking an Unesco Heritage site in the south of Italy and the seriousness of this day — but there is a connection.  Every time I think of Herculaneum, I think about this scene:

Not what I was expecting when we went to Herculaneum

There we were, walking through this ancient site and we came upon this startling scene.  The remains of the men, women, and children who were likely vacationing in Herculaneum — a beautiful sea-side resort — on that fateful day, August 24th, 79 AD.

Herculanum was a place where the rich went to play, and on the day that Mt. Vesuvius erupted, these people were enjoying the finer things in life, probably with family or friends.  It’s not likely they expected that day to be their last.

And now, their remains are on display, and people walk by them every single day.  There they lay — 300 men, women, and children — and though they are but bones, they speak loudly to those who will listen.

My four year old, pointed to a tiny skeleton and said, “Oh a little baby”.  She immediately recognized the sacredness of this spot.

These bones speak of life and joy — and yes, death — the sober reality that eventually comes to us all.  Staring at the remains of these people left a lasting impression upon me.

That city’s remains revealed much about the luxury and the advancements the people of it’s day enjoyed.  They were living a very comfortable existence.

They had indoor kitchens…
Plumbing delivering water throughout the city…
Sumptuous marble-lined baths….
Mosaics floors everywhere you walked…
Decadent bath houses …
Frescoes and water features and beauty surrounded them…
Arches that still stand covered with stories of gods and goddesses and Roman life
You can imagine the peaceful sea-side resort that it once was…

Indoor kitchens, running water, sumptuous baths, and frescoes, and running water, and art and treasures….they had all of that.  And yet, in the end, none of their wealth could save them.  The rich died along side of the poor on that fateful day.

You see, death does not discriminate.  It comes to us all.  And even if Mt. Vesuvius had never erupted, all those people — they still would have eventually died.

Even if Vesuvius had never erupted, death would have eventually come to every inhabitant of Herculaneum

We will all reach a moment in our lives, a moment that will be our last on this earth — our last breath, our last thought, the last beat of our heart — and we can fight it all we like, but eventually death will come to us.

So knowing that, the obvious question arises, “what are we going to do with the time we have been given?”

It’s good to step back and look at our lives and evaluate how we are living them.  These are the “Memento Mori” moments — the moments where we are reminded that eventually, we are going to die — and how does this knowledge change the way that we are going to live?

It gives us time to examine if we are living lives that will only leave us full of regret.

How does knowing you will  die, change the way you will walk this path?

If we put off the good that we can do today, eventually we will regret it. All those days and years of sitting around and waiting to begin the good we can do will eventually add up to a lifetime of regret.

Most of us have no problem recognizing the darkness around us, but do we refuse to strike out against it?  How will we look back at our response to the evils of our time?  Will we see a pattern of failing to do anything about them?

I realize that many of us get overwhelmed by the ugliness and the darkness that we see in the world.  It’s not that we don’t want to do good, it’s that, we wonder whether it will make any difference in the end.

If you find yourself at that point in your life, then the problem is that you’ve spent too much time staring at the darkness.  You’ve allowed it to paralyze you, to fill your heart with fear and despair, and to render you a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

I know in my life, I’ve allowed the devil to whisper in my ears the lie that the darkness is too dark and nothing I do will make a difference.  Maybe you’ve given in to the same lies.

I’m beginning to realize that when I begin to doubt the value of even trying — when my faith begins to falter — the very best thing I can do in that moment is to do that good thing.  Just do it.

That’s right, you tell the Devil, the father of all lies to “go to hell” and then you do that good thing. Don’t worry so much about the results.  The results are in God’s hands, but we must try or the good won’t have any chance at all.

For most of us, little acts of love over a lifetime is our path to making a difference.  Look at the injustices of the world, the innocent lives killed, the humans being trafficked, the unloved and lonely people of this world — look at them, and do something.

Don’t just sit there.  Remember, we’re supposed to run the race so as to win — so why aren’t we running?  Let’s pick up the pace, people.  There’s good to be done.

Run the race so as to win…

Recently, a friend from college became aware of the human trafficking going on close to where she lives.  She found out more and decided to do something about it.

She befriended some of the women involved and decided to help them and their babies — yes, many of these young girls eventually have babies of their own to take care of.  She wanted to love them and let them know that they’re not alone.  She gathered baby supplies and treats and took the time to get to know them.

It was a small thing if you put it into perspective the huge problem of human trafficking — but to those young girls, it was a big thing.

You know what they told my friend?  They told her the best way to stop sex trafficking was to love your kids.  Sadly, some parents actually sell their kids into trafficking, but many of these young girls feel unloved and then men and women of ill intent take advantage of that wound to lure them into this awful life.

Charity begins at home.  The way we loved the people who are closest to us will likely be the source of our greatest joys or the greatest regrets of our life — so let’s not forget to love our family above all the other pursuits of our lives.

Your life has a huge impact on the lives of your kids

Apart from our families, It is true that one person can not solve all the world’s problems, but what if millions of people began to look for ways they could do good in the world?

What if the 2 billion people who claim to be Christians in the world would began to light a candle in the darkness?  What if we really lived they way Jesus was asking us to live?

Imagine a world of Christians who were heroically living the Gospel of Love. Imagine the light that would fill the world.

The truth is, some of us have grown too comfortable with being comfortable.  We’ve fallen asleep.  We’ve lost hope and begun to disengage from the world and to live for comfort till it’s our time to die.  It’s easy to do.

But what if today, we wake up and re-engage with the world around us?  What if we begin to live lives of heroic love?

We’d be able to stare those skeletons straight in the face and say, “yes, one day death will come — but until that day, I’m going to keep loving, keep striking out at the darkness, keep loving one person at a time, and keep responding to God’s call.”

So let’s take a day like today to remember our death, and let’s take a moment to remember the deaths of so many innocent people around the world, but let’s allow that knowledge to change our lives for the better.

Let’s be a light that stands in opposition to the darkness.

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

~St. Francis of Assisi~

“If when I die, I find that God does not exist, I will have been well-fooled. But I would still not regret having spent my life believing in love.”

~St John Vianney~

Remember your death and you will begin to live every day of your life differently…

A blessed weekend to you.


Sharing over at Kelly’s



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6 thoughts on “Herculaneum, Memento Mori, and Striking Out Against the Darkness

  1. Awesome Moira…even with 8 kids I can put life on hold and grasp for the easy life…but it never brings joy. Good to remember to be one always striving for Gods will and love. Love you, Megan

  2. Beautifully written.
    As I read your post, my heart was pounding in my chest feeling that all life matters! And that all life ends…
    O that we would all champion the cause for the life of the weak, the disadvantaged, the persecuted, the lonely, the lowly, the homeless, the refugee, the unborn, for the life of all and even ourselves.
    Let all life live knowing that it is loved.

  3. “If you care, you’ll be there! ” and they did care and they did come to the first National March for Life.
    and look what happened! Thousands upon thousands have come, year after year and an entire new generation is now coming. You were there from the very start as a pre-born baby and now as a mother of your own beautiful ones. Care enough and you will know what God is calling you to do. Just don’t ever forget your family…that’s what this is all about! Love you! Mom

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