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RIP, Fr. James V. Schall

From the desk of Conor Gallagher,
CEO Saint Benedict Press & TAN Books


All is Straw

Dear Friends,

There is nothing so dull as a “News Alert.” Yet there is nothing so refreshing as the wisdom of the ancients. When one reaches the point of boredom or, alas, depression with the chaos and moral depravity of modern times, all one must do is pick up a book or article by the great Fr. James Schall—and there one finds refuge along with renewed hope for humanity.

It is a blow to humanity whenever we lose a great philosopher, or teacher, or writer. . . and Fr. Schall was all three. He, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, was the master of bridging the gap between ancient wisdom and modern living.

To put forth an image he would appreciate, I am reminded of the scene in the Aeneid in which Aeneas is fleeing the burning city of Troy. As he fled, Aeneas carried his father on his back and led his son by the hand. This is what a leader does: he carries tradition with him while directing future generations. A great image, I believe, for the great Fr. Schall.

And yet, as I sit here reflecting on his numerous articles I’ve read on Socrates and Plato and Aristotle . . . I am reminded of Aquinas’ last words, “All I have written is but straw.” In his great humility, Fr. Schall might have a similar sentiment. Here, however, is where I pause and think: he’s right. All that work is but straw.

Of course—the greatest works of the human mind are but straw to the Beatific Vision, which was the Angelic Doctor’s point. That is easy to accept. But I reflect on another point: Fr. Schall’s work is but straw compared to his way of life.

To call Fr. Schall a philosopher, a teacher, a writer is all true. But above all, he was a Christian. He lived the Gospel. He was a disciple and priest of Jesus Christ. In the end, I care little about his reading of the Platonic dialogues, and I care everything about his witness as a Christian. I care little about his astute political philosophy and care everything about his living the beatitudes.

As an amateur philosopher, teacher, and writer, I will never reach the heights of his brilliance. But I now know that we all can
and mustwith the grace of Almighty God, reach his level of sanctity.

In the end, all his writings are straw precisely because his Christian life was everything.

Thank you, Fr. Schall for your witness as a Christian in a post-Christian era. May you rest in the peace of Christ for all eternity. 


Conor Gallagher,


Saint Benedict Press & TAN Books


We have been privileged to play a small part in
publishing his great oeuvre.
You can find our titles by Fr. Schall

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