• Church Life

    The Rituals of Death

    One of the things the Church does well are those rituals which surround death and the remembrance of it. Death is something which is present for every one of us, no matter how well we try to avoid it; it is the inescapable final episode of life. And at that moment, the Church can offer something deeply important not only for the dying person, but also for those close to them. In the Church calendar, November is set aside as the ‘month of the Holy Souls’ – these being the dead, whose eternal fate we can never be certain of and whom we hope are at least enduring the purification…

  • Faith and Life

    Memento Mori

    Part of our common human nature is that we tend to think we have all the time in the world – and that throughout that time, we will be invincible. That may be how we see things, but it certainly does not reflect the reality. Time is precious – and each of us has only a limited amount of it allocated to us. And it passes all too quickly, as most older people – and all those who are dying – will attest. They will probably also agree that in our time, we are far from invincible – on the contrary, we are as prone to illness, disease, deterioration and…

  • Faith and Life

    The Power Of Dying Well

    I have two friends – Stuart, who lives fairly close by, here in Scotland; and Marian, who lives in England – and both are rapidly approaching death. Both of them have a very special place in my heart. Each one, in their own way, is teaching me something about life – and about death. And their powerful lessons go beyond just me. Stuart, diagnosed on Ash Wednesday this year as having a terminal illness, made the decision to use his experience to help others. He shares frequent posts on social media which detail how he is and what he is experiencing. Over the last month or so – particularly since…