Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
The author returns to the subject of bioethics with essays on loneliness, aloneness, euthanasia, meaning anorexia and purpose, brain death and the life and death of Jesus Christ. Why? Because man, male and female, one in body and soul suffers as a religious being. To be able, therefore, to respond mercifully and constructively to a variety of human wounds, opening up, again and again, the possibilities of life we need to recognize that the whole of human personhood entails being in relationship: that man is a social being and exists in relation to God and neighbor: the God who comes to show us the truth in love that heals and calls us to share what we have received with our neighbor.
This book began with the Morning Prayer of the Catholic Church coming to proclaim, through the psalms, that “today” is the favorable moment: that “if today we listen to His voice, let us not harden our hearts as at other times when we have disbelieved that He can Help: let us not declare in our hearts that there is no God or that He does not or cannot act; and therefore, let each day, with whatever troubles it has, be a day to encounter our life, and the life of others, in the presence of the prayer of life, and the life of others, in the presence of the prayer of the Church. His word and the gift of hope in the help of Jesus Christ. So whatever our daily difficulties and this short book has ranged over many and various kinds of suffering, there is a divine help, like yeast, to raise to the fullest effect any other kind of help that may be necessary.
The Morning Prayer of the Church is made up of psalms, readings and prayers; in the Office of Readings for today, the 10th of March, 2022, there is a “A reading from the homilies of St Asterius of Amasea who says: “Look at how Christ received those who listened to his voice. He gave them a ready pardon for their sins and in a moment he quickly freed them from those who troubled them” and then, later, he says: “The whole story of the lost sheep has a sacred meaning and it warms us most to think of any man as lost or beyond hope, We must not easily despair of those who are in danger or be slow to help them”. So while my own testimony is not of a ‘quick fix’ and therefore there is no guarantee of the timescale involved in the healing of the heart, our health, and the questions of meaning, purpose and the problems of relationships which we encounter throughout our lives, the point remains that we need a sustaining hope, an enlightening word and a belief that, contrary to what we may be going through, the g who is love is in love with us and calls us to love another. (John 4:7-21) Therefore, without being simplistic and presuming all the difficulties of life are equal in our experience of them, nevertheless they are susceptible to the various human helps and the help of God.