Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monica, Marilyn, and Vanity in Death

Driving in to work today, I heard a segment on NPR that once again highlighted for me the difference between the culture of the world and the Christian culture, where we are called to be in the world but not of the world.

There is, it seems, a market for people who want their remains to be buried near those of a celebrity. In this case, a Japanese gentleman purchased a mausoleum space directly above that which houses the remains of Marilyn Monroe. The winning eBay bid was a cool $4.6 million. The current resident of that space, who asked that he be buried face down, is being evicted by his widow, who needs the money.

Contrast that with St. Augustine’s account of the death of his mother, St. Monica, whose memorial is today:

While she was sick, she one day sank into a swoon, and was for a short time unconscious of visible things. We hurried up to her; but she soon regained her senses, and gazing on me and my brother as we stood by her, she said to us inquiringly, "Where was I?" Then looking intently at us stupefied with grief, "Here," saith she, "shall you bury your mother." I was silent, and refrained from weeping; but my brother said something, wishing her, as the happier lot, to die in her own country and not abroad. She, when she heard this, with anxious countenance arrested him with her eye, as savouring of such things, and then gazing at me, "Behold," saith she, "what he saith;" and soon after to us both she saith, "Lay this body anywhere, let not the care for it trouble you at all. This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be." And when she had given forth this opinion in such words as she could, she was silent, being in pain with her increasing sickness.

St. Monica, intercede for us, that we might be saved from vanity in death as well as in life. Pray for us!

Oh, and the gentleman with the winning bid? He’s trying to renege on the deal “because of the paying problem.”

No comments: