The Corner

Father Canavan R.I.P.

He was a highly respected intellectual and writer on political philosophy, but — much more important — he was a very holy man. The lunches I used to have with him and the rest of the gang at the Human Life Review tended to focus on the issues of the day, issues on which I often disagreed with him (he was the Burkean Catholic, I the libertarian Protestant). But once, even as we were disagreeing on something specific, I felt an unmistakable sense of the numinous from him. It was uncanny; it was a moment of stopped time, of a deep unity, of “these things shall pass away but God’s words will not pass away.” Now as then, I find the experience difficult to put into words, but a passage from Dawn Eden’s reminiscences of Father Canavan suggests it: “As another Jesuit friend, Father Sean Raftis, says, for some holy people as they age, the veil between heaven and earth becomes very thin. It did seem that way with Father Canavan.”

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