End-of-life Issues

Letters | Anointing the Sick, a Callous Court, James Agee

Readers offer a remedy for the church's "unction dysfunction," another disturbing aspect of the Supreme Court's lethal-injection ruling, and more on James Agee.

Unction Dysfunction

According to Catholic discipline, there is only one kind of person who can offer anointing of the sick: a priest. But there aren’t enough priests to go around.

Unmarked Territory

Dying is an adult activity. This has been one of its bigger surprises for me. I find I need to leave behind the child side of myself to go where I now need to go.

Poem | Aunt Grace Wears Beautiful Clothes

Asleep, she has no idea she is old. // She’s running uphill, no lightfoot, but quite fast / past the houses and driveways of family friends / toward the higher...

Commonweal Interviews

Featuring the best of our interviews—including Woody Allen, Jorge Luis Borges, Mary Gordon, (Sister) Elizabeth McAlister, Christian Wiman, and Mario Cuomo...

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anne Enright's new novel suggests something simple—family, for good or ill, keeps forming us even when we try to escape it—but her prose constantly surprises.

Last Word: Senioritis

Often the way our society treats "senior citizens" assumes that as bodies age, individuality decreases. But aren't whiskers and white socks a sign of unique wisdom?

Last Word: Things Fall Apart

Despite hard work, sound planning, lifestyle adjustments, and unusually well-behaved Irish genes, I find myself—to paraphrase Yeats—“where all the ladders” end.

Letters | Deciding to die in America

Continuing the debate on programs like POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment).

Last Word: Giving Care

Relatives of Alzheimer's sufferers are often reminded that the human person is more than memory and mind. We don't easily believe this, until something happens.

An Interview with Christian Wiman

The poet discusses "accidental theologies," Gerard Manley Hopkins, faith in literature, and what it's like no longer being the editor of Poetry magazine.

The Last Word: Skull & Bones

We moderns pay advanced planning counselors to avoid the fate of St. John of the Cross and to get us to our burial on time, but can we ever be sure it will work out?
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