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The Living Dead: Monks, Nuns, and Zombies


This story begins at the beginning. God created man male and female in his own image. Things were good back in those days. People got along, food was tasty, pleasure was easy and strong. But soon, calamity struck. There he was: the proto-zombie. Lucifer, now Satan, beguiled the original humans with the big lie: life with God is a half-life. He did this as a dead person, seeking to consume the new fleshy creation, endowed with great gifts. Just like all zombies, he didn’t gain anything through this temptation: he just wanted to create more zombies.

The children of Adam and Eve roamed the earth, half-dead after being afflicted by their parents’ disease. They turned on each other and in on themselves. As in all zombie documentaries, however, the cure began to reveal itself. Nevertheless, this antidote was working slowly, coming along in fits and starts. Unfortunately, the zombified humans were shockingly resilient and resistant.

Then one day, there seemed to be a person who wasn’t afflicted by zombitis. He started curing people of their maladies and there was hope in the air. Of course, there’s nothing a zombie wants more than to make a non-zombie into a zombie. The proto-zombie came back to trick Jesus with the same lie—living in obedience to God is not really living. But he resisted. Enraged, Satan stirred up the horde to kill this anomaly.

You might have heard the phrase “zombie Jesus.” Get it? He came back from the dead. Therefore he is a zombie. Clever, but not true. Zombies are half-dead; Jesus is fully alive. Zombies make other zombies; Jesus frees the slaves. Where there is death, he brings life. After his Resurrection, there were many who were brought from a half-dead experience to life.

Once again, zombies want nothing more than to feed on the living. Many of those who came back to life were killed for their vivifying faith. Through their witness, they brought many to life and gained eternal life themselves.

In addition to the martyrs, there were hermits and monks and widows who wanted to offer their lives as a sign of the healing power they received, and to give life to those who still were afflicted. Some began to use the phrase “dead to the world” to describe this life of consecration.

So were these who were “dead to the world” another group of zombies? Because they made vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, weren’t they just mindless half-humans, failing to enjoy life? On the contrary, these monks and nuns were working to give witness to the full life those in heaven enjoy. By contemplating God, and loving their brothers and sisters, they were setting out to live a more real kind of life than the lives which they led on the outside. And not only did they pray, but they contributed to this world as well. They brewed beer, made honey and jam, organized the copying and writing of books, educated others, composed music, provided refuge, gave medical care, and countless other services for individuals and the larger culture—services that continue even to this day. From these monks and nuns came other groups: the friars, sisters, and societies who go to the people and try to dispense the antidote to a life bound by sin.

The poison of sin always promises to give more life, but instead takes it away. These witnesses are not perfect; one of the zombie truths is that those who are ever sickened (namely, everyone) still suffer the effects and continually need to be medicated by the one who is Life. But those who receive the remedy for zombitis aim their lives toward the goal of life—to live with God and his loved ones forever, fully happy and fully alive.

All Christians have received the gift of life. We are all called to have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven, so to speak. God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. He wants us to have life and have it in abundance. Resist daily the lie that the life of faith is a half-life. Zombies are slaves to themselves. True freedom consists in living for someone outside yourself.

“Look! I am going to open your graves; I will make you come up out of your graves, my people, and bring you back to the land of Israel.  You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. I have spoken; I will do it” (Ezekiel 37:12-14).