On My Bookshelf: Death

When this volume shipped in over twenty years ago, a parishioner commented, “What kind of book is that?”

Gone are the days of spiral binding from this series, alas. The “traditional” bookbinding they print these days doesn’t hold up as well sitting on the piano as the older format. The contents are still impressive, though. This was a consistently good series coming out of LTP. Death is one of the better assemblages of poetry, short essay, literature excerpt, Scripture, and prayer. It might be because of the seriousness of the topic.

What is your November observance, friends? If it involves reading and pondering, I’d recommend this book.

It’s a literary chestnut, to be sure, but Emily Dickinson’s lyric is still a standout:

Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to On My Bookshelf: Death

  1. Liam says:

    I start the month, roughly (yesterday for this year), by visiting the Old North Burying Ground (established 1634) in Ipswich Massachusetts, which is about the most classic English-colonial burial ground as exists in North America, with a complete evolution of gravestone marker art. A link to follow this comment. For a very different New England cemetery experience, one could do no better than visiting the first garden cemetery in the New World, the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is, basically, Cambridge’s most distinctive park (a famed place, for example, for birders to spot warblers in the spring migration).

    This year, my focus is on the fifth anniversary of the suicide of a friend the Sunday before the 2016 general election. Confession, rosaries and other prayers, asking for plenary indulgence: in addition to burying the dead, part of the work of mercy. For more newly established parishes with land or access to land, it might be a timely month to ask what a parish might do to establish a columbarium and churchyard (perhaps so-called green burials in jurisdictions that permit it) for interment of the indigent or those in need. I used to worship at a church whose rear backed onto a 19th century civic potter’s field, near where the city’s public gallows once stood in colonial times. If one is in prison ministry, one might consider chaplains who are preparing those for death (whether by execution or natural causes).

    Prayer is the most vital thing we “do”, especially with the intention of aligning our wills to the will of Divine Providence. It’s the foundation for everything else. It’s never “mere”, even if it’s not liturgical. (In that regard, consider the example of Ste Therese of Lisieux as patroness of missions, for example.) Maybe November is a good time of year to reinforce that outside of a specifically Lenten or Advent frame.

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