Reflections on a Dying Life is a series of reflections based on two common themes in Saint Augustine's Spirituality. Donald Burt OSA, explores Augustines recurrent idea that as human beings we are living in an Inn for Travelersa hospice for those who are still on the roadas well as the idea that every moment of our existence is a movement towards death, the moment when we must "exit" this hospice to the life waiting for us beyond the doors. These ideas are developed in three sections; Part One: "Life in the Inn for Travelers," Part Two: "Death: the Door to Life," and Part Three: "Life After Death."
In hopes that his reflections on these ideas will assist himself and his readers to be happy, Fr. Burt focuses on the support the Christian faith provides for those in transit. The Christian faith assures us that whatever happens to us in this life, we will never be without the presence of a loving God who guaranteed through God's own death that we can have perfect happiness on the other side of the door of death, and who in the meantime has promised that God will stay with us, supporting us along the way.
A remarkable collection of essays that provides thoughtful rumination on our life now, our future death, and the life that awaits us thereafter, Reflections on a Dying Life is an excellent navigational tool for any thoughtful guest in this mostly pleasant Inn for Travelers.
Donald X. Burt, OSA, PhD, is a member of the Augustinian Order. Recently retired as professor emeritus in philosophy at Villanova University, Father Burt has published twelve books and numerous articles on the thought of St. Augustine.
Those who have fully yielded to the traditional Catholic-Christian teaching about the last things will find many occasions to pray and deepen their sense of mystery. In its eschatological realism Reflections on a Dying Life is a refreshing relief from the 'Golden Years', viagra-enhanced illusions shamelessly pandered by high finance, health plans, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Catholic Books Review
Donald Burt's book is sure to become a great classic. With great pastoral sensitivity, he explains that life moves on. We cannot capture it and make it last forever. With great power, reassurance, and some humor, Burt talks about death in the midst of life. This is a very profound yet reader-friendly spirituality of life, death, and the resurrection. Burt insists that by living well we cannot die badly.
The Faith Connection
For many a reader of this journal . . . this may be the wisest and most helpful book.
Review for Religious
Professor Burt's anecdotes are often moving, drawing on the last stages of his own journey to the grave as well as reminiscences from an active academic and pastoral life as priest and scholar.
Quarterly Review of the Community of the Resurrection
It's a thought-provoking read on a sensitive but important topic.
CRUX of the News
Fr. Donald X. Burt is on a very short list of the finest biblical and patristic spirituality writers in the Church of the last half century. He has rendered a tremendous service to the Church in making St. Augustine accessible to the person unable to pore through his voluminous writings. Fr. Burt's penetrating, down-to-earth style is music to the reader's ear and heart. Free of ideological tentacles and platitudes, his writings address many of today's pressing personal, relational, and pastoral issues. His books are ideal for spiritual reading as well as lectio divina, the Church's model of holistic, contemplative reading that continues to assume greater prominence in Catholic life. Having read his books since the early 1980s, I can attest to their fresh, enduring qualities and their uncanny capacity to speak to the needs of the day. Very highly and personally recommended.
Karl A. Schultz, National Speaker and author of eleven books
From time to time, we all find ourselves thinking about who we are, where we are headed, and how we are going to get there. With the help of his mentor St. Augustine, Fr. Burt offers us some marvelous insights on these questions. He uses vibrant images to share his thoughts with us, as he reminds us that we are all living in a Hospice, an Inn for Travelers,' that we are dusty angels looking upward as we struggle on this earth, that our faith gives us a room with a view to see beyond this Hospice to eternity. Fr. Burt shows his optimism in this quote from Augustine: Anyone who lives a good life is not able to have a bad death. This book is easy to read, inspiring, down to earth, and full of hope based on the promises God has given us through Jesus Christ.
Theodore E. Tack, O.S.A., Author, As One Struggling Christian to Another
"To a philosopher like Fr. Burt, the love of Holy Wisdom, of Hagia Sophia, is the petus of faith. And he has shown that what is vital to the faith is indeed the practice of death, a `dying life' that forever lives by perishing, and lives forever more.
In this thought-provoking series of reflections, Fr. Donald Burt invites us into a motif dear to the heart of St. Augustine: this world is a Hospice; we are, after all, only travelers; our true home is with God. Drawing upon the ancient wisdom of Augustine, Fr. Burt offers today's Inn-mates much food for the journey, a vision of its destination, and a warm appreciation for the many anticipated and unanticipated rest stops along the way.
Thomas F. Martin, O.S.A., Villanova University
Reflections on a Dying Life is a specifically Christian narrative that gives witness to faith and, especially, to fides consolans, a faith the substance of which is every consolation against the potency of death.
Reflections on a Dying Life is an eminently accessible and deeply pastoral book of Christian eschatology. Fr. Burt uses his masterful knowledge of St. Augustine's writings to create a classically Catholic spirituality of aging. Integrating a deep faith with his disciplined reason, Fr. Burt gently, lovingly sculpts an Augustinian spirituality of death and resurrection. Every page brims with the humor and pathos, with the irony and insight that distinguish all of Fr. Burts writings as precious resources for contemporary believers and thinkers. Long after they have finished this book, Burts image of the inn for travelers, woven throughout the text, will stay with readers. It will invite them to return many times during lifes pilgrimage and refresh their souls in the company of this scholarly, spiritual priest.
Joseph T. Kelley, Center for Augustinian Study and Legacy, Merrimack College