A note by Joseph Bottum at First Things delivers the very sad news of the loss of Richard John Neuhaus:
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering.
Also reprinted there is an essay Fr. Neuhaus wrote in the year 2000, a meditation on an earlier near death experience for him by way of a terrible bout with colon cancer. That later became his profound book, As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning.
My own deepest condolences are here offered to his family and all those who loved him.
It’s been one of the great unsought blessings of my life that I was able to make Richard’s acquaintance in a small way. And what I’ve learned through becoming acquainted with his work changed my life in no small way at all; in fact, in the largest way possible. I’ve referred to his writings many times in this space and will again, and likely over the next few days. He has gone home, I know, and he has gone there after using his time on this earth to point the way home for so many others.
From the aforementioned book, As I Lay Dying:
And thus it became luminously clear to me as I fitfully puzzled through these questions, lying there on the hospital bed: I have already died! My death is behind me! The question of what is to happen to me now is not a question about me, but a question about Christ. And that question has been answered. “Christ is raised from the dead never to die again; death has no more dominion over him.” Therefore death has no dominion over me. At some point “it” will happen. This body will be separated from this soul, and that is a great sadness. I was not expecting it so soon. I would have, all things considered, preferred to go on as I had been for many more years. But it did not really matter that much.
Today, however, it matters a great deal to so many of us. Rest in peace, RJN.