The Last Periphery: Death?

By Samantha Lin

ROME — Father Edmund Power, OSB, former abbot of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, shared his reflections on death, purgatory, and the afterlife at The Lay Centre on 2 November, All Souls Day.

His presentation, entitled “The Last Periphery: Death?” was the third lecture in the six-week adult faith formation series offered this autumn at The Lay Centre.

Father Power shared with attendees his belief that death is, in fact, not a periphery but a “centre,” as “all things tend toward the centre.” He frankly, but without macabre, reminded participants that “we are all going to die.”

“Death is a door,” he posited. “We don’t know what’s behind it. Is it even a door? If so, it leads to something else, if not…it doesn’t. Will we find bliss? Will we find suffering?”

The “unknowing-ness” of death, according to Father Power, is the ultimate uncertainty that makes humans hesitant.

“I think it will be quite an adventure,” he said.

The subject was very personal for Father Power, who was diagnosed with a potentially terminal form of cancer. At the start of his chemotherapy treatment, he faced the door of death. He said he confronted this basic fact with faith.

“The only way to serenely cross that door is by gazing at the face of the risen Christ. Everything becomes relative,” he said.

After the talk, Father Power celebrated Mass for the deceased members of The Lay Centre community.

The Lay Centre’s series, “On the Peripheries,” continues today with two Georgetown University professors, Father Drew Christiansen, SJ, and Dr Carole Sargent, PhD.


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