In Praise of Father Schall

Over at First Things, George Weigel has written an excellent tribute to a man much beloved around here: Father James Schall. Father Schall is entirely incapable of blowing his own horn, so Weigel must do it for him:

He is a deeply learned man, yet he wears his learning lightly. He looks the part of the old-school Jesuit he is: if someone told me that, like the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, Schall uses duct-tape to fix his battered shoes, or that he cut chunks out of old Clorox bottles to make the tab collars for his faded clerical shirts, I wouldn’t be surprised. He is a marvelous teacher and a great spiritual director; and he is both because he is a man at peace with the absurdities of the world, which he knows to be part of a divine plan he doesn’t presume to grasp fully. Yet he is no ambiguist: he would rather thrust his hand into the fire than put a thought not congruent with the truths of Catholic faith on paper. I imagine he would happily die a martyr; the thought of the axeman’s face, confronted with Father Schall’s smiling, one-eyed visage, is worth a meditation.

The occasion for Weigel’s piece is, unfortunately, a sad one: “This summer, Father Schall is recovering from some nasty surgery, which involved removing a cancerous jawbone and its attendant teeth and replacing the jaw with bone taken from Schall’s leg.” True to the man, Father demurred when I asked if I could solicit prayers from IC readers on the blog during his surgery; but now that Weigel has let the cat out of the bag, I think he’ll just have to bear with us as we storm heaven on his behalf.

Also in true Schall fashion, he is already back on the job: His next column for IC will appear on Monday. May he be granted a speedy recovery, and may we be the beneficiaries, with many more columns ahead!

 

By

Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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