In Benedict’s Rule, he encourages his brothers “[t]o keep death daily before one’s eyes.” (RB 4:47) This seems like a rather dreadful way to be. A daily reminder of death? I would assume that the postmodern would think this is a silly idea since s/he is skeptical about any notion of heaven/hell/resurrection. Why focus on something that we can know nothing about? However, the afterlife matters and can be discerned.
Death puts everything in its proper perspective. When you die, it really doesn’t matter what kind of car you drove or how much money you made while you were alive. No one will care about those “things.” Material things should be de-emphasized by those that are daily reminded of death. The permanent things in life should be nourished.
Death reminds us that our lives are vulnerable. It’s true that I can do things to make myself healthier. But, I cannot make my heart beat or prevent every single accident or tragedy that may occur. Accepting the reality of death daily reminds us that we are created beings sustained by something outside of ourselves. This is a call to worship the Creator and to be constantly dependent on Him for life.
Death reminds us that the world is in a state of abnormality. In the beginning when the world was created, it was called good. Humans were made to live, not to die. But sin entered the world and death followed. Death reminds us of the brokenness that exists in this world and we should be offended by it. This is a call to act and work for God’s Kingdom. N.T. Wright says in “Surprised by Hope” that “following the disaster of rebellion and corruption, [God] has built into the gospel message the fact that through the work of Jesus and the power of the Spirit, [God] equips humans to help in the work of getting the project back on track.” (p. 107)