I met Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., when I was 18-years old. He was guest teaching my Politics 101 class at the Catholic University of America. I don’t remember what the topic was for the day, but I remember he put me on the spot, and it was something about Socrates. We reconnected years later, I believe shortly after I became editor of National Review Online, and he subsequently never said “no” to me. I’d ask him for all sorts of comments and interviews and he’d always oblige.
When, Fr. Schall, a Jesuit priest and storied professor of government at Georgetown University “retired” a few years ago, he seemed to become as productive as ever. (Some of his writings are here.)
You can’t exactly write, “Fr. James Schall, S.J., 91, died suddenly this week.” And yet, considering my last interview with him was earlier this year about nearly dying in January, you could see how I might have thought we’d get another interview in yet. At my better moments, all I really want in life is for God to say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I don’t know if He’ll ever say it about me, but I’m pretty sure Fr. Schall is hearing or will soon hear those words. He taught many and gave time to many, frequently, if not always, downloading wisdom, pointing people to God. I’m grateful for his life and the time he gave me and us over the years. May we do something similar with our lives.
As a Dominican priest friend of mine says: “God, be good to him.” God sure was good to us giving us Fr. Schall.