Lessons from modern saints—Catholics and Protestants—that illuminate the relation between how we die and how we live.
“Dying is the most general human event, something we all have to do. But do we do it well? Is our own death more than an unavoidable fate that we simply wish would not be? Can it somehow become an act of fulfillment, perhaps more human than any other human act?”—Henri Nouwen
All of us face the prospect of death—if not this day, then one day. But most of us would rather defer that thought indefinitely. Earlier generations of Christians studied classic ars moriendi—manuals on the art of dying—to help them face and embrace mortality. They learned from these books something our own generation is in danger of forgetting: that the manner in which one dies very much depends on the manner in which one has lived.
Kerry Walters offers a new take on an old theme, exploring the connection between living and dying well by recounting the stories of nine exemplary men and women of our time and the particular virtues they embodied.
From Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Sister Thea Bowman, Etty Hillesum, Civil Rights martyr Jonathan Daniels, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John Paul II, and Caryll Houselander, we learn lessons about love, trust, gratitude, patience, courage, and hospitality. These lessons teach us something about how to die. But mostly they show us what it means to truly live.
Kerry Walters is a professor of philosophy and peace and justice studies at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He is a prolific author whose recent books include Giving Up god to Find God: Breaking Free of Idolatry, John Paul II: A Short Biography, John XXIII: A Short Biography, and Junipero Serra: A Short Biography.
"This book is a genuine treasure-lessons from the real lives of some less familiar holy women and men of our time. Kerry alters artfully and lovingly allows their stories of how to both die and live well open up for us readers. Perfect for a retreat or study group, a beautiful book!"
-Michael Plekon, author, Living Icons and Hidden Holiness
“A moving and important book… This superb new collection of essays on some of the great religious figures of our time will be a welcome balm to those who are moving nearer to death; a great support for those who accompany them; and for those of us still making our way through the world, a ringing call to life. "
-James Martin, SJ, author, My Life with the saints
Kerry Walters gives us a wonderfully gripping and original guide to dy¬ing well. The engaging life stories and the excellent discussions of the virtues realistically needed for a good death are inspiring. Take, read, and be fortified. "
-Sidney Callahan, author, Created for Joy: A Christian View of Suffering