Book: Approaching the end of life

  • Father John Buckley

Approaching the end of life - How the Bible Can Help Us Understand series edited by Virginia Moffatt. Publisher Darton Longman and Todd

One of the great blessings bestowed on the Catholic Church in our time is the rediscovery of the scriptures. And especially the central role they must play in our spiritual lives.

Pope Pius XII saw the need. In his encyclical ' DIVINO AFFLANTE SPIRITU ' (1934) he urged Catholic scholars to devote all their efforts to the study of the sacred scriptures. Some are of the opinion that this was one his finest achievements. It led in turn to Vatican II and that epoch-making constitution ' Dei Verbum.' That Council, saturated in scripture gave us a document which quoted Pope Pius and begun to fulfil his wishes. It gave us that doyen of scripture scholars: St Jerome, who stated: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." Yes !

We have come a long way but we still have much to do - which is why I cannot praise enough this series of study guides edited by Virginia Moffatt. They are brilliant ---Pray.. Study... Read... Question... Share Thoughts ... Share Reflections... Share Experiences ...and Pray. They are so constructed that anyone, not just Catholics, can participate and benefit. They can be used privately or shared in community and they are crying out for promotion.

In the volume under review, Virginia discusses the subject of Life and Death. At the centre of our Catholic faith is a unique life and death that is Christ the Son of God, who is also the Son of Mary. We say at Mass... 'Christ has died-Christ is risen - Christ will come again.' The Old Testament leads to this and the New Testament leads forward. Virginia uses the Bible with respect and insight. She never plays games with or misuses scripture, as is easily done.

Her sharing of her own experience, especially that of helping loved ones approach death gives depth to this guide. Her use of secular literature and the opinions of a wide variety of persons is excellent. Reflecting on questions that people very often are afraid to articulate adds honesty to the guide - Questions like: Is it possible to believe 'thou shall not kill ' but support euthanasia????. And what is ' Christ consciousness' ???.

While working on this review I was called away to attend to a sudden death in my own family and of course, Covid 19 put very limited boundaries on requiem liturgies; which made grief more painful than usual . When I returned to my desk it gave greater value and urgency to the volume under review. Sharing is such an important part of life and death.

Virginia ends her guide with a beautiful prayerful reflection on John Ch.12 v 23-26. For this alone her guide is worth it.

For more information and to order from DLT see:

Tags: Father John Buckley, Virginia Moffatt, Death, End of Life, Darton Longman and Todd, DLT

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