Rediscovering Ars Moriendi for Modern Medicine and the Church
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Death is often treated as taboo and the dying are frequently pushed to the outskirts of society. Modern medicine has created a culture in which the worth of a human life is based on its independence and ability to contribute to society. Good health has become the coveted prize above all else. Even within the Church, there is an unnatural silence about death and specifically the process of dying. This thesis seeks to illuminate practices that help the contemporary Christian to die well. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, European Christians created a literary genre known as the Ars Moriendi or “the art of dying.” These medieval pamphlets provide a wellspring of knowledge for contemporary readers. The art of dying well can also be found in the practice of modern medicine, particularly in the hospice movement founded by Dame Cicely Saunders. By reexamining Ars Moriendi, this thesis calls the Church to rediscover the art of dying well, encouraging Christians to live in such a way that allows them to care well for the dying and remain faithful in their own experience of dying.