Tuesday 19 April 2022

A Question of Death & Life - Fr Neil McNicholas - CTS Explanations

A Question of Death & Life
CTS Explanations 
Father Neil McNicholas
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691882
eISBN 9781784692346
CTS Booklet PA41

A Catholic Approach to Dying
ISBN 9781860824111

Death A Friendly Companion
ISBN 0851838669
CTS Booklet S428

As of the writing of this review I have read 264 titles from the Catholic Truth Society, and many of them more than once. Over the past several years the books and booklets from the CTS have become invaluable resources in my personal life and in my sharing and helping others grow in their faith and knowledge of Catholicism. This is one of only 3 volumes that received less than 4 stars. The vast majority receive 5 or 4 stars. This one received 2 the lowest rating I have given a book from the Catholic Truth Society, and it very nearly ended up on my ‘did not finish’ list. It is one of two volumes written by Father McNicholas, the other being A Catholic Approach to Dying, which is an earlier edition of this book, but was published in 1992 as Death a Friendly Companion, republished in 2005, this revised and renamed edition and the eBook volume were released in 2017. I have read both the 1992 and the 2017 editions of this volume. 

The description for the volume is:

“This booklet invites us to examine our attitude towards death, and carefully addresses the Catholic teaching on unbaptised babies, suicide, burials & cremation, and music at funerals. With updated texts on the sacrament of the sick, the processes of dying, and the funeral.

This booklet invites us to examine our attitude towards death, and help us to discover how taking death on board enhances the way we live our life. The Catholic teaching on unbaptised babies, suicide, burials and cremation, and music at funerals, are all carefully addressed here. With updated texts on the sacrament of the sick, the processes of dying and preparing for death, final care, grieving, and arranging the funeral.”

The chapters in this volume are:

An Invitation
The Denial of Death
Death: A Friendly Companion
Talking about Death
A Continuum of Care
Funerals: Planning and Structure
Funerals: Symbols and Practical Points

The subtitle of the earlier edition of this book was “Death – A Friendly Companion” It did not contain the chapter on Suicide, nor the appendix. Having tracked down the 1992 edition as well as the current, being unaware they were basically the same work was a disappointment. But I was even more disappointed by the current edition of this volume. To be honest I cam away feeling with a bit of disdain, the volume felt wishy-washy. It reads as if the author is trying to cover the basics but also, to please everyone. Parts of the book are brilliant, and parts I just sadly shook my head it. The author seems complicit in advice to ignore church teachings or norms to appease the bereaved. 

This volume was absolutely not an excellent read. It is the first volume from the Catholic Truth Society that I am definitely disappointed in. And also, the first that I cannot recommend, which is a great pity for it is an important topic. And for the few good pieces in this work, I do not consider it worth it.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

For all reviews of 20 Answers books click here.

Books in the CTS Explanations Series:
Marriage Annulment in the Catholic Church
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Does the Church oppress Women?
Organ Transplant – and the definition of Death
Be Yourself An Explanation of Humility - William Lawson SJ
Gene Therapy – and Human Genetic Engineering
Prenatal tests
Gift of life and Love
Cloning and Stem Cell Research
Contraception and Chastity
Freemasonry and the Christian Faith
Intelligent Life in the Universe
Spirits, Mediums & The Afterlife

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