The Corner

RJN Round-up

From Fr. George Rutler:

He objected to the term “converting” for a baptized Christian who became Catholic: Rather, such a one “embraced” Catholicism. I demurred, as I thought I had converted, albeit not from so intensely dogmatic a confession as Lutheranism but from the pleasant perch of Anglicanism. That same evening, he pointed out that the heating system in a nearby building was being converted to gas, to which I replied that he should have said it was embracing gas.

….

Father Neuhaus kept a picture of Martin Luther in his rooms — partly, I think, to animate remarks from such as me, but also because he believed that people who thought deeply and powerfully, despite their errors, had more of a way with eternity than the functionaries of lifeless remnant religion, such as the National Council of Churches, to whose suburbanized Orwellianism he reacted by forming the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

From George Weigel:

his living room—in which we prayed, argued, laughed and planned for more than 30 years—strikes me as a concise summary of the man.

Over the fireplace hung an old etching of Jerusalem, identical to that which once adorned the office of Teddy Kollek, the city’s longtime mayor: for Neuhaus lived, thought and wrote within a thoroughly biblical cast of mind, in which the earthly Jerusalem represents the New Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation—the fulfillment of humanity’s deepest spiritual longings. On one wall was an abstract, modernistic print of a boy riding a Chagall-like bird: “That’s little Dickie Neuhaus,” he once told me, “riding the Holy Spirit.” A Byzantine icon of his patron, the apostle John, marked another wall, with a vigil light burning before it; Richard used to joke that his Lutheran pastorate, the church of St. John the Evangelist in the then desperately poor Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, was “St. John the Mundane,” as distinguished from the Episcopalian Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. There was a colossal sound system, for he loved music, especially Bach; there were bookcases containing the Lutheran Book of Worship, from which he and the ecumenical Community of Christ in the City, with whom he lived, prayed vespers every evening, before and after his reception into the Catholic Church; and there were ample supplies of bourbon and cigars, both of which Richard regarded as essential complements to the ongoing, boisterous conversation that was his intellectual and spiritual lifeblood.

From  Raymond Arroyo:

When one steps back and looks at the turns of Father Neuhaus’s life — at his active engagement with social causes and, when American culture changed, with those “first things” that came to matter more than ever; at his willingness to forsake friendships and old alliances to pursue the truth — it is ever more clear that he was willing to obey the promptings of his faith, no matter where they took him.

From Fr. Raymond de Souza:

His journal and his books were his vehicle for intellectual argument, the pulpit his instrument for preaching, but it was the art of conversation that was his means of guiding others in the way of discipleship.

Unlike no man I have ever met, he was utterly at ease discussing the most serious things; not so much this or that influential book, but struggles in the life of virtue, mysteries in theology, the great questions of my life and his: What does the Lord want of me?

That his preferred method of doing so was after evening prayers had been said, with a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other, was the practical affirmation of his theological conviction that to rejoice in the Lord’s gifts was an obligation of gratitude.

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