Without forewarning from anybody, I heard the name of my own brother read out in the darkness, as one more candle was lit on one of the little “trees of candle flames” in that loveliest ancient basilica, beneath the flickering dome of its glorious frescoes.
I like to think that “Father Richard” will one day be honored in the official lists of the Blesseds and the Martyrs of the Church, as a living example of the longing to lay down his life — not in the way he foresaw — for Muslim-Christian communion in suffering.
He was no simulacrum of piety, my kid brother, he was just an ordinary guy — with a sometimes impious sense of humor, and a realism that seemed to flow directly from the candor of the Gospels.
Fidelity to him, as well as to Christ, explains why I think the cause that Father Richard died for was, presciently, the one most vital to the life of the Church, and our civilization, in our time.
— Michael Novak’s latest books are All Nature Is a Sacramental Fire and, with William E. Simon Jr., Living the Call: An Introduction to the Lay Vocation. His website is www.michaelnovak.net.