The Christian virtues and the art of dying

9 values that can shape the end of life in a cruciform way

As the capacities of biomedicine multiply, so does the market for books—both secular and religious—on dying well. Some Christian authors are returning to medieval ars moriendi texts to reclaim the power of practices in the arts of dying. Matthew Levering, who teaches theology at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, makes a slightly different move. He turns his knowledge of scripture and Catholic tradition toward a rich exploration of how Christian virtues form our attitudes and experiences around dying.

Levering positions his book as a work of Roman Catholic theology, but he engages with biblical texts as deeply as with technical thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner, and Benedict XVI. As he considers how the virtues fostered by Christian belief and practice shape people’s approaches to the meaning of their own death and the deaths of others, Levering displays an exceptional balance of theological depth and pastoral insight.

Each chapter focuses on one of the traditional Christian virtues, and Lev­er­­ing begins with love. Perhaps sur­prisingly, Levering filters his discussion of love and dying through the book of Job.