Our Faithful Departed

Where They Are and Why It Matters

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: November 11, 2022

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Awarded third place in theology by the Association of Catholic Publishers and third place in grief and bereavement by the Catholic Media Association.

When someone we love dies, it’s difficult to look beyond our grief to understand that they are still with us.

And yet we hear in the funeral liturgy that “life is changed not ended.”  In Our Faithful Departed, University of Notre Dame theologian Leonard J. DeLorenzo shows us what this means and how we are called to remain faithful in our relationships with the dead.

“Those whom we have known and loved in this life we have only known and loved partially, imperfectly,” DeLorenzo writes. “In heaven, what has been partial shall be made complete, and what has been imperfect shall be perfected.”

He explains that the Catholic Church teaches that heaven is not so much a place as it is a perfect communion in Christ where the living and the dead are forever united.

In this book, you will learn that:

  • St. Teresa of Calcutta thought of her own life as a practice for heaven;
  • the Eucharist is a prayer for the dead, an offering brought to the altar;
  • Día de los Muertos is an understanding that death is not the opposite of life, but part of it;
  • Christ wants us to broaden and deepen our notions of the body;
  • we can practice communion with the dead by praying for them, remembering them by name during the Mass, sharing memories of them, and celebrating them in devotional practices.

DeLorenzo relates his own story of the loss of his grandparents and shares heartwarming experiences from other Catholics—including Laura Kelly Fanucci, Stephanie DePrez, and John Cavadini—who have felt the connection with their lost friends and loved ones.

DeLorenzo said that the Church must encourage communion with the dead through public acts such as Eucharistic processions, prayer, monthly adoration with prayers for the souls in purgatory, and by accompanying the grieving with tenderness and compassion.

A free small-group discussion guide is available at avemariapress.com.

Product Details

Pages: 160

Trim size: 5 x 7 inches

ISBN: 9781646801671

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

The discussion guide will help you get the most out of reading Our Faithful Departed individually or with your parish, small group, or book club. It includes questions for each chapter of the book for discussion or reflection.

More Books in the Engaging Catholicism Series

Books in the Engaging Catholicism series from the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame help readers discover the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith through a concise exploration of the Church’s most important but often difficult-to-grasp doctrines as well as crucial pastoral and spiritual practices.

Our Faithful Departed: Loving Them After Death
  • “Thought provoking and Christ-centered.”

    “Thought provoking and Christ-centered. This powerful read is for all believers who search for soulful answers to life’s biggest challenge—the loss of our precious loved ones. DeLorenzo bears witness to the truth: tending to the spiritual side of grieving is the surest path to hope, healing, and consolation.”

    M. Donna MacLeod
    Author of the Seasons of Hope bereavement ministry series

  • “This book will help you learn how to grieve.”

    “Death is a universal reality of human existence and this book will help you learn how to remember, how to grieve, and ultimately how to love.”

    Dr. Kristin Collier
    Director of the University of Michigan Medical School program on health, spirituality, and religion

  • “Important for grief ministry.”

    “An important addition to the bookshelf of anyone involved in grief ministry in the Catholic Church.”

    Deacon Ed Shoener
    President of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers 

  • “I want to give this book to everyone who is grieving.”

    “Leonard DeLorenzo shows us how to apply the Church's teachings to our everyday experience and let them shape the way we live and the way we grieve. I want to give this book to everyone who is grieving.”

    Sarah Shutrop
    Director of formation at Immaculate Heart Academy
    West Milford, New Jersey

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