I am reading an unbelievably insightful book by John Carmody, Conversations with a Dying Friend. I first met John and Denise when I was in college, where John was then a graduate student. John introduced me to the world of Karl Rahner, a discovery which opened my eyes and changed my life to this very day. (If you read nothing else by Rahner, take up his simply written but profound meditation, Encounters with Silence, a work to which I return with some regularity).
John wrote Conversations before he himself was diagnosed with incurable bone cancer, which makes the book all the more remarkable. It was based on exchanges he had had with several friends who themselves were dying from cancer. If you want to understand the depths of the dying journey, how Christian faith helps inform it for some of us, but also how facing our dying clarifies our faith, read this book. After John was diagnosed, he wrote another powerful book, Cancer and Faith, which deeply echoes Rahner’s mysticism, and (posthumously) God Is No Illusion, a collection of letters and messages he and Denise sent to friends during John’s illness. These books endure as spiritual and theological gifts to anyone who wants to learn something about facing our mortality in joy and peace.
I am grateful for all these works at this time, but more especially, for the gift of having known John. John died on this day in 1995.