I had recently reviewed Rediscovering the Art of Dying by Sister Nuala Kenny (Linked Here), and had mixed reviews about the book. Thus, I read some other books on the Christian understanding of pain and suffering.
One of those books was A Christian Perspective on Pain and Suffering – With The Dawn Rejoicing by Melannie Svobada, SND. I rate Svoboda’s work highly. There is an unnecessary quote from Carl Jung, a new-age type thinker (and yes its true – look up his bizarre and ridiculous beliefs) on page 28 that I could find dozens of quotations from Catholic Saints saying the same thing but otherwise I only have good things to say about the book.
The book is written in short reflection style format followed by a brief prayer in contrast to Rediscovering the Art of Dying which was more of an example discussion format. Now granted that Rediscovering the Art of Dying was dealing with Assisted Suicide and the Catholic understanding of end of life pain and suffering specifically and Svoboda’s work on pain on suffering only, many of the themes overlap.
In my opinion, while the Art of Dying presents some great stories and reflections on real life examples of how people suffer with various life ending health problems and has value in that, Svoboda’s work does a better job of showing how a Catholic can deal with pain in light of their faith.
Svoboda is pretty quick to point out slowing down will be required, learning to lean on prayer, adjusting to a new normal – that one you are much less in control of, accepting crosses, taking things day by day and many more great insights that gleam with Catholic wisdom and virtue. It is not as if the Art of Dying does not also present such themes, but in my opinion it brings out its Catholicness in a slower and more hidden way. Svoboda is more obvious about Faith’s roll in suffering recommending even have a crucifix close by to hold if required.
That is why I give Svoboda’s book a favorable review.