Noble told CNA that she was first inspired by the example of the founder of her order, even before she entered the religious life.
Bl. James Alberione kept a skull on his desk to remind him of his eventual death.
“Before I entered the Daughters of Saint Paul I read this and I thought, ‘That is so metal. Definitely going to do that at some point,” she said.
While she later forgot about the intention, it came back to her during a spiritual retreat last year. One of the priests at the retreat had a small skull with him. Noble took this as a sign to take up the meditation and borrowed a ceramic skull from one of her sister’s Halloween decorations. She created the hashtag campaign shortly thereafter.
The practice of meditating upon one’s death has been common in the Church for centuries, and daily prayers for the dead are part of the routine for many religious orders. In Catholic art, many saints are depicted holding a skull as a reminder of their death and the importance of preparing for a final encounter with God.
While death can certainly be an uncomfortable topic to think about, it is far from a morbid subject in the mind of the Church. Noble said that she believes that as Christians, “we are not just meditating on the reality of death but on Christ’s victory over death.”
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With this in mind, Noble said that meditating about death is actually a “hope-filled practice.”
“Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that ‘Christ died so that by dying he might deliver us from the fear of death,’” she said. The practice of memento mori, she said, “helps us to make that journey from fear to hope.”
Since starting her tweets, Noble told CNA that hundreds of people have sent her pictures of their own memento mori skulls, and that many people have seen the spiritual fruits that come along with meditating on their own death.