This past Friday night I attended a memorial mass for Richard John Neuhaus at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, marking the one year anniversary of his passing. I’ve written before about the impact RJN had on me, primarily through his writings; in particular through his profound and classic book Death on a Friday Afternoon. Friday evening’s mass was beautifully done in every respect (including the music provided by the choir of New York’s Church of Notre Dame). The homily was given by Fr. George Rutler. And near the end of the mass, Fr. Benedict Groeschel shared some warm, humorous and poignant stories of Fr. Neuhaus.
Fr. Rutler’s sermon has been posted at the First Things website and here’s how it begins:
The past year has not been abundant with fortune for the world or our nation—which made it precisely a time when one ached for commentary from Richard John Neuhaus. We waited, by an instinct that thought he would reply quickly. But there was an uncharacteristic silence. Gradually we realized through the tutorship of time that all his words in this world had been spoken. We can only surmise what he would have said when engaging the follies and faithlessness of our late culture. His attentions are different now and, confident of an eternal life beyond all the ups and downs of the present, he can claim the epitaph of another man of letters, Benjamin Franklin, who likened his body to the cover of an old book with contents torn out and “stripped of its lettering and gilding” but which he believed would “appear once more in a new and more elegant edition revised and corrected by the Author.”