Singulariter in Spe Constituisti Me: On the Christian Attitude Towards Death

Adrian J. Walker

Christ’s victory over death is the foundation of the Church’s entire proclamation, which is just vain talk unless the Lord has truly been raised from the dead (cf. 1 Cor 15:17). By the same token, the Church must turn to the Risen One in order to unmask the shadowy “world-rulers of this present darkness” (Eph 6:12), to reveal the hidden unity underlying the (apparently) contradictory behavior of our secularized societies, which flee death by seeking it (cf. euthanasia) and seek death by fleeing it (cf. “aggressive treatment” designed to prolong life at all costs). Of course, since the Church is called to unmask these contradictions only in order to heal them, she must always be ready to give an account of “the reason of the hope” (1 Pt 3:15) that is in her. Her very confidence in Christ’s victory requires that (in the person of her theologians and philosophers) she think about death, and that she do so with no less seriousness and no less humor than Socrates in the Phaedo.Can hope truly stand the test of death, or does death put an end to all hope?2



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