In Praise of Father Schall

Over at First Things, George Weigel has written an excellent tribute to a man much beloved around here: Father James Schall. Father Schall is entirely incapable of blowing his own horn, so Weigel must do it for him:

He is a deeply learned man, yet he wears his learning lightly. He looks the part of the old-school Jesuit he is: if someone told me that, like the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, Schall uses duct-tape to fix his battered shoes, or that he cut chunks out of old Clorox bottles to make the tab collars for his faded clerical shirts, I wouldn’t be surprised. He is a marvelous teacher and a great spiritual director; and he is both because he is a man at peace with the absurdities of the world, which he knows to be part of a divine plan he doesn’t presume to grasp fully. Yet he is no ambiguist: he would rather thrust his hand into the fire than put a thought not congruent with the truths of Catholic faith on paper. I imagine he would happily die a martyr; the thought of the axeman’s face, confronted with Father Schall’s smiling, one-eyed visage, is worth a meditation.

The occasion for Weigel’s piece is, unfortunately, a sad one: “This summer, Father Schall is recovering from some nasty surgery, which involved removing a cancerous jawbone and its attendant teeth and replacing the jaw with bone taken from Schall’s leg.” True to the man, Father demurred when I asked if I could solicit prayers from IC readers on the blog during his surgery; but now that Weigel has let the cat out of the bag, I think he’ll just have to bear with us as we storm heaven on his behalf.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

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Also in true Schall fashion, he is already back on the job: His next column for IC will appear on Monday. May he be granted a speedy recovery, and may we be the beneficiaries, with many more columns ahead!



  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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