by Richard John Neuhaus (2000)
This book was published a year before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It could not have been timed better. I did not discover it until 2012, reading it three weeks into the Easter season. Nevermind that it was too late for Lent–with the author’s repeated appeals not to move too quickly past Good Friday on to Easter, it seemed unexpectedly appropriate to read it well after Easter. That is not to say it is not good Lenten reading: I reread it in Lent 2013, and it worked there, too.
This book does not falsely advertise itself: it really does read like a meditation. The blurb on the back cover is spot on: “Writing in the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, Neuhaus sets out to unpack the macrocosmic truth of the Seven Last Words of Jesus, a truth that sets Good Friday apart from all other days, even from all other holy days.”
If you only know former Lutheran Fr. Neuhaus for his political commentary, you will be in for a surprise. This is pretty much a purely spiritual book, with nary a trace of the political in sight.
I hope to read it again soon.
Here is an excerpt that rivals the style of the great G. K. Chesterton: