Although he would probably not have taken this description as a compliment, Fr. Neuhaus’s “The Public Square” feature in First Things was an extraordinary journalistic accomplishment. Every month he read everything from Lutheran newsletters to the New York Review of Books and added comments of his own that rarely failed to enlighten, entertain, or, frequently, both.
The Naked Public Square is probably his most influential work, but the one I value most highly is Death on a Friday Afternoon. On hearing the news of his death, I looked up this passage:
When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my own. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,” although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways–these and all other gifts I have received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will, with Dysmas, look to Christ and Christ alone.
Then I hope to hear him say, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” as I hope with all my being–because, although looking to him alone, I am not alone–he will say to all.