Is it possible to die peacefully? The Catholic Church has always believed so.
The Catholic Church has a tradition of viewing death as the beginning of something more special, the afterlife. The deceased have been treated as sacred, and graves and bodies have been venerated in the Catholic Church for as long as it has existed. Death for a devout Catholic is not something to be feared, but something to look forward to.
Among many other treatises and doctrinal works that Catholic scholars have written over the years on death, none can be more comprehensive than the 15th century Catholic work, the Ars Moriendi, “The Art of Dying.”
British Catholic leaders have now brought the teachings of the manuscript alive through a website called “The Art of Dying Well.” The website is intended to serve as a source of comfort for those Catholics, as well as all other Christians, who are finding it hard to face the reality of death concepts have been taken from the manuscript and animated videos have been made based on these teachings. Besides animated clips, the website also contains narratives by real people who are facing death, as well as video clips that talk about death in general.
This move by the Catholic Church in England was a much-awaited one, especially at a time when fear of uncertain death is on a rise. Media has only been a catalyst in increasing the fear of death. Sci-fi movies and movies on modern medicine have portrayed the whole concept of life and death in a misleading manner. While medicine is supposed to cure a person only from bodily ailments, modern media has made it look as though death can be combatted through medicine. The occurrence of death is seen as an unfortunate incident, something to be afraid of. This contrasts the rather optimistic view the Catholic Church has always had of death.
Working with the English bishops in their new project is Katherine Sleeman, a palliative medicine registrar working with old and terminally ill inmates at the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College, London. Sleeman says she has seen many terminally ill patients accept their deaths calmly and peacefully. These patients and aged inmates have realized there is nothing to fear in death. As such, creating a website would help spread the stories of these people would bring a lot of comfort and solace to people who are in the anguish of death.
The website was launched on Tuesday, which was celebrated as All Souls’ Day by the Catholic Church.
— Gareth G Morgan (@gmorganshu) November 1, 2016