Your character in an epitaph

Do you ever think about what you might like others to say about you after you die?

I do not mean to ask whether you are concerned with being praised posthumously. The point is: Does what you want to have been true about you inspire you practically in your character and conduct now?

November 17th is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. There is a wonderful piece by St. Edith Stein about her titled, “On God’s Mercy: The Spirit of St. Elizabeth As It Informed Her Life.”

In it, there are several sentences that speak to St. Elizabeth’s character in such a way that is eminently attractive and yet, upon any serious consideration, is grasped as being deeply countercultural.

Here are some examples:

From her earliest youth she opened her heart in warm, compassionate love for all who suffered and were oppressed.”

“She was moved to feed the hungry and to tend to the sick, but was never satisfied with warding off material need alone, always desiring to have cold hearts warm themselves at her own.”

“Overflowing love and joy led to a free naturalness that could not be contained by convention.”

“She could only do what love asked of her, even though it produced strong criticism.”

“She did not want to be stubborn and disobedient and to live in discord with her own, but she could not bear human voices over the inner voice governing her.”

Ask yourself: What do I want to have been true about me all along once I die?

And, how can I live my way into that epitaph?

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