Thursday, January 8, 2009

Father Neuhaus, Rest in Peace

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Father Neuhaus has gone to be with the Lord,via First Things:

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned; information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

In Deepest Sorrow,

Joseph Bottum
First Things

Father Neuhaus was selected by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America:

Bushism Made Catholic: When Bush met with journalists from religious publications last year, the living authority he cited most often was not a fellow Evangelical but a man he calls Father Richard, who, he explained, "helps me articulate these [religious] things." A senior Administration official confirms that Neuhaus "does have a fair amount of under-the-radar influence" on such policies as abortion, stem-cell research, cloning and the defense-of-marriage amendment.

Neuhaus, 68, is well-prepared for that role. As founder of the religion-and-policy journal First Things, he has for years articulated toughly conservative yet nuanced positions on a wide range of civic issues. A Lutheran turned Catholic priest, he can translate conservative Protestant arguments couched tightly in Scripture into Catholicism's broader language of moral reasoning, more accessible to a general public that does not regard chapter and verse as final proof. And there is one last reason for Bush to cherish Neuhaus, who has worked tirelessly to persuade conservative Catholics and Evangelicals to make common cause. It's called the conservative Catholic vote, and it played a key role last November.

Read profiles of this exceptionally gifted and learned priest here and here, as well his online archive of magnificently produced body of work here.

A man with a firm grasp of the true nature of Islam & the challenges ahead for the Western World he opined in '06:

To purify Islam by ridding it of the current rulers who are declared to be apostates and no better than infidels, to compel the submission of the Christian West (meaning mainly America), and to achieve eternal bliss by sacrificing one's life (if necessary, in suicide attacks)—these are the driving motivations behind Jihadism. Such is the appeal, not to the poor and disenfranchised of the 'Arab street' but to the brightest and best of the relatively well-educated and well-off of young Muslims, both at home and abroad, who are seething with resentment over centuries of what they view as humiliation by the West and are bent upon vengeance to the glory of God.

After September 11, First Things worried editorially about the meaning of an open-ended conflict and the applicability of just-war doctrine when it may be impossible to specify the meaning of victory. That is a continuing worry. Perhaps it is forever, or at least as far as we can see into the future, and the best we can hope for is containment of the threat. To clear our minds of cant and prepare for the future, we need a new but very different 'Letter X' such as that written by George Kennan in 1947, preparing us for the long contest with the Soviet Union.

Lastly, close to 9 years ago Father Neuhaus had written about the concept of death:

We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word "good" should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.

Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances. What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality rate holds steady at 100 percent.

Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer of children of all ages: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take." Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing.

Read entire piece here.

Hat Tip: Da Mihi Animas
Hat Tip: The Corner-NRO

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