Fr. George Rutler on Being a Priest-Writer

Asked why he continues to write:

I expect to publish my thirtieth book in 2019. I am surprised that almost all of them still are in print. One of my earliest was on the epistemology of Immanuel Kant, but I have been unsuccessful so far in getting it made into a Hollywood musical.

It is not that I have nothing better to do. My parishioners have an unmitigated tendency to get born, marry, and die, and this occupies one’s attention. Most of my writing is in pastoral response to events of the day, and I have to write between Holy Hours and plastering walls and fixing an antiquated heating system.

But I continue to write for the same reason that I continue to breathe: I shall only stop when the Holy Spirit rejects the manuscript which is my life itself, and which is in dire need of editing.

No wonder they’re in print.

Canonization lost its touch these days, more of a ho-hum thing in view of recent flurry? Fr. Hunwicke objects.

Fr. Hunwicke is at pains to explain why canonization is infallible — the saint’s in heaven, all’s right with the process — but not with the infallibility defined in 1870 at the First Vatican Council.

“Defined,” he points out, meaning limited, as any catechism-familiar grade-schooler knew in the ’40s and ’50s, to ex cathedra pronouncements, meaning “from the chair” or with the special full authority of the papacy.

Why does he explain?

I have returned to this question because the current, apparently politically motivated, frenzy for canonising recent Bishops of Rome may have tainted for many the very concept of canonisation . . . may have rubbed off it some of the gloss. How can we enjoy the oncoming event [canonization of Cardinal Newman] with proper exuberance when the currency of canonisation has been so devalued, so reduced to a political formality?

I have no problems. Since Saint John Henry [Newman] taught a great deal which is directly in opposition to the attitudes of the current pontificate, his canonisation cannot be seen as a political act intended to subvert the Great Tradition.

“On the contrary,” he says.

I regard it as a triumph of divine Grace in the midst of the dark clouds of this pontificate; as a sudden bright burst of sunlit glory piercing the clouds and giving us a certain pledge of the ultimate triumph of orthodoxy!

So, as one of those recently canonized bishops of Rome used to repeat, Be not afraid.

(Note various spellings of canonization, where I use the right way.)