I was reading through “The Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections” by the late Archdiocese of Chicago, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, and I was taken by his description of the visit he had with Henri Nouwen, just weeks before Nouwen’s death, and how Nouwen explained the power of friendship, of support. I can clearly see the Fifth Station of the Cross here.
Cardinal Bernardin wrote:
A very significant thing happened during the month of July last year. Father Henri Nouwen, a friend of mine for more than twenty-five years, paid me a visit. He had come to a conference in the metropolitan area and asked if he could come to see me. I said, “By all means.”
We spent over an hour together, and he brought me one of his latest books, “Our Greatest Gift: A Reflection on Dying and Caring.” We talked about the book, and the main thing I remember is that he talked about the importance of looking on death as a friend rather than an enemy. While I had always taken such a view in terms of my faith, I needed to be reminded at that moment because I was rather exhausted from the radiation treatments.
“It’s very simple,” he said. “If you have fear and anxiety and you talk to a friend, then those fears and anxieties are minimized and could even disappear.”
This conversation was a great help to me. It removed some of my anxiety or fear about death for myself.