Death remains the eternal question shadowing human life, and we should be suspicious of easy answers to its mystery. We need to look at it without falsifying it or deluding ourselves. We cannot give a satisfactory account of it, and yet we cannot leave the subject alone. To remain silent would be to see death only as a brute fact, and we cannot live humanly with brute facts; we have to see them humanly, and this makes them human facts.
Coming to understand the fictional selves that enter and shape our thinking and feeling – and striving to live beyond them – is the homework we have to do in preparation for death. To enter its mystery, we need to open the mind and heart, through meditation, to a deeper way of living.
Donagh O'Shea, a native of Co. Cork, is an Irish Dominican priest, and currently director of the Dominican Retreat Centre, Tallaght, Dublin 24. He has lectured on spirituality and conducted retreats in many parts of the world. He is the author of Go Down to the Potter’s House (1989), Take Nothing for the Journey (1990), In a Fitful Light (1994), Stations of the Cross (2003), and Faith Questions (2013). Most of his current writing appears on the website www.goodnews.ie
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