In this rich book Matthew Levering explores nine key virtues that we need to die (and live) well: love, hope, faith, penitence, gratitude, solidarity, humility, surrender, and courage.
Retrieving and engaging a variety of biblical, theological, historical, and medical resources, Levering journeys through the various stages and challenges of the dying process, beginning with the fear of annihilation and continuing through repentance and gratitude, suffering and hope, before arriving finally at the courage needed to say goodbye to one’s familiar world.
Grounded in careful readings of Scripture, the theological tradition, and contemporary culture, Dying and the Virtues comprehensively and beautifully shows how these nine virtues effectively unite us with God, the One who alone can conquer death.
“we must see that dying, like living, belongs to discipleship to Christ.” (Page 11)
“Pieper first specifies that death is not merely the separation of body and soul as if they were two distinct entities from the outset. Instead, death ruptures a real unity: the person, and not just his or her body, dies.” (Page 35)
“I argue that what primarily needs to be healed is the remnants of the rebellion that we all suffer from when we want our own way rather than God’s.” (Page 8)
“‘God, not nothingness, is the beginning, ground, and ‘end point’ of all persons.… We come from God and are bound to return to God.” (Page 11)
“His point is that our hope can only be in God and his mercy, not in any virtues that we imagine ourselves to possess ‘on our own.” (Page 166)
I love this book! In Dying and the Virtues Matthew Levering explores the path of discipleship in life’s final chapter with an acute mind and an attentive heart. Many today prefer to push the reality of dying and death to the sidelines until it becomes unavoidable, missing its profound significance for us as individuals, as families, and as the church. Levering gives a compelling theological portrait of how the triune God is at work even amidst fear, suffering, and loss on our mortal journey, bringing life through the crucified and risen Lord.
—J. Todd Billings, Western Theological Seminary
St. Paul assures us that whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. In this book Matthew Levering illuminates how death, which may seem like a loss and even an embarrassment, is in Christ actually an invitation to unite oneself to the Eternal One in a way and at a time that the world of the supposed ‘living’ can never really understand.
—David Vincent Meconi, SJ, Saint Louis University
This is a rich and sophisticated ars moriendi for our time, drawn from the storehouse of the Christian tradition that Levering has been so profoundly exploring over the past years.... His focus upon the divine graces of Christian virtue now shaping the fullness of living and dying in Christ provides extraordinary fruit.
—Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
Matthew Levering is a Roman Catholic theologian and and Perry Family Foundation Professor of Theology at Mundelein Seminary of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. Prior to this, Levering was professor of theology at the University of Dayton in Ohio and also taught for nine years at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. Levering earned a BA from the University of North Carolina, an MTS from Duke Divinity School, and a PhD from Boston College. He is an expert on the theology of Thomas Aquinas.