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The Faithful Justice

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer is more than a collection of Justice Antonin Scalia’s speeches on religion and American public life. Edited by son Christopher Scalia and former law clerk and long-time confidant Edward Whelan, this eleven-speech collection also includes nine personal reflections from friends and family, four extended excerpts from judicial opinions by Scalia, two prayers (one by St. Thomas More and another by St. Ignatius of Loyola), a funeral mass homily (by son Fr. Paul Scalia), and a letter by Justice Scalia to a Presbyterian minister about the funeral ceremony for Justice Lewis Powell.

There is no other book quite like On Faith about any other Supreme Court Justice or American Catholic. Then again, there has been no other Catholic Justice quite like Antonin Scalia—neither among the six who preceded him (Roger Brooke Taney, Edward Douglass White, Joseph McKenna, Pierce Butler, Frank Murphy, and William Brennan), nor among the six who have followed (Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh).

Really Present

This is the second published collection of Scalia speeches edited by the same Scalia/Whelan duo. Their earlier book, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, includes a wider range of speeches. With one exception, all of the On Faith speeches were previously published in Scalia Speaks. Although this second collection is narrower than the first, it is deeper. On Faith is a better starting point than Scalia Speaks for those who want to understand Justice Scalia from the inside. The book’s personal reflections by people who knew and loved him, together with a foreword by Clarence Thomas and an introduction and funeral homily by Fr. Paul Scalia, give On Faith a more intimate feel. Despite the powerful sense of his absence from our temporal world, the mortal Justice Scalia is very present in these pages.

So, too, are Catholic sacraments. The book begins with a reference to marriage, present in the dedication to Maureen Scalia and accompanying epitaph from A Man for All Seasons: “Why, it’s a lion I married! A lion! A lion!” The book ends with the Eucharist, present through the funeral mass homily.

The Eucharist is also central to the first personal reflection, “Really Present,” by Judge Patrick Schiltz. Schiltz’s title has a double meaning. The first meaning appears in his description of Justice Scalia’s intensely prayerful demeanor during the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass: “Kneeling, head bowed, eyes closed, hands tightly clasped, brow deeply furrowed, Justice Scalia was so focused that he almost seemed to be in pain. But at the moment of the consecration of the bread—and then again at the moment of the consecration of the wine—he would raise his head, open his eyes, and look intently at the newly consecrated bread or wine as the priest held it aloft.” Justice Scalia was really present. The second meaning refers to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist: in the form of bread and wine, the Eucharist is really, in substance, the body and blood of Christ. Schiltz links these two meanings: “Kneeling next to [Justice Scalia], I realized that this was what it looked like when someone truly believed what I professed to believe…. After attending one Mass with Justice Scalia, I never worshipped—or thought about worship—the same way.”

The Real Presence is one of those Catholic doctrines that non-Catholics find hard to comprehend. Such beliefs are at the core of “Not to the Wise—the Christian as Cretin.” This was a speech Scalia would often deliver to groups of Catholic lawyers, many of whom had Thomas More as their patron saint. Scalia would sometimes call this his “Two Thomases” speech because of its contrast between the martyred More and the “enlightened” Jefferson. In it, Scalia describes “the attitude of the wise” toward “Christian fundamentalists” as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.” This was the same attitude the worldly wise had of “traditional Catholics,” Scalia would say—“those who do such positively peasant-like things as saying the rosary, kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist, going on pilgrimages to Lourdes or Fatima, and, worst of all, following indiscriminately (rather than in smorgasbord fashion) the teachings of the Church.” Scalia would exhort his audience to embrace the scorn of the Thomas Jeffersons of the world. His aim was “to impart, to those already wise in Christ, the courage to have their wisdom regarded as stupidity. Are we thought to be fools? No doubt. But, as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ‘We are fools for Christ’s sake.’”

A Judge and a Catholic

On Faith has a trinitarian structure. The editors distribute Justice Scalia’s eleven speeches among three categories. These categories expand outward both in the kinds of lessons they offer and in the audience for each: Personal Lessons for Christians; Political Lessons for Believers; and Public Lessons for Americans. Each section contains the same number of personal reflections by others (three), but an uneven distribution of Justice Scalia’s speeches. “Personal Lessons for Christians” includes six Scalia speeches, occupying almost half the book’s pages. “Political Lessons for Believers” contains four Scalia speeches and an excerpt from his opinion for the Court in Employment Division v. Smith. “Public Lessons for Americans,” by contrast, contains just one Scalia speech, and three Scalia opinion excerpts.

It is no surprise that all three judicial opinions excerpted in “Public Lessons for Americans” are dissents. As the subtitle of the book indicates, Scalia was an American believer. But he did not look to opinions of the Supreme Court for the content of his constitutional faith. His understanding of American orthodoxy was rooted in the history and traditions of the United States, not an institutional magisterium. Scalia justified even his interpretive orthodoxy of originalism by reference to national tradition. In “Faith and Work—How Belief Affects Vocation,” Scalia professed a view of the Constitution as “a document containing a fixed and limited number of specific guarantees that do not expand and contract from age to age (though of course they must be applied to new phenomena). That is the traditional view.”

Justice Scalia also adhered to a traditional understanding of judicial office, such that he could say in good faith in the same speech that “Just as there is no Catholic way to cook a hamburger, so also there is no Catholic way to interpret a text, analyze a historical tradition, or discern the meaning and legitimacy of prior judicial decisions—except, of course, to do those things honestly and perfectly.” Scalia’s reference to doing the job honestly and perfectly comes from Christ’s admonition to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” His assertion that there is no “Catholic way” to be a federal judge has a more mixed pedigree. It is at least partially a function of ingrained defensiveness about the relationship between his Catholic faith and his stance toward the constitutional law of abortion.

To criticize the pedigree is not to condemn the position—not necessarily, anyway. “Catholic judges are not special” is true descriptively. Compare Scalia with Kennedy or Brennan. It is true prescriptively, too. With respect to the constitutional law of abortion, the relevant difference between Scalia and Kennedy or Brennan is not that Scalia was a better Catholic, but that he was a better judge.

Although accurate enough descriptively and prescriptively, there is nonetheless something both unsatisfying and un-Scalian in his disclaimer of a distinctively Catholic way of being a good judge. While Justice Scalia would describe his abortion jurisprudence as “simply the product of lawyerly analysis of constitutional text and tradition,” his dissents in abortion cases were more righteous than dispassionate. And that righteousness came from who he was and what he believed—both as a Catholic and as a federal judge.

In his speech, “On Being Different—the Christian as Pilgrim,” Justice Scalia criticized John F. Kennedy’s description of his Catholicism as a “religious affiliation.” “I have always hated that phrase,” said Scalia, “reducing the most profound commitment of a man’s life to a mere membership preference. Ah, yes, I am a Catholic. But I might be a Muslim or a Jew or even an Episcopalian tomorrow, if I should choose to change my ‘religious affiliation.’” Against JFK’s self-description, Scalia invoked an unlikely but altogether more Scalian hero: “Surely the man should have said, ‘I hope no one will vote against me because of what I am.’ That is what my hero Popeye would have said. ‘I yam what I yam.’”

Death and Life

The last words in On Faith go to Justice Scalia himself. They are in a letter he wrote to Presbyterian minister Dr. James C. Goodloe IV commending him for the manner in which he presided over Justice Lewis Powell’s funeral. “Even when the deceased was an admirable person—indeed, especially when the deceased was an admirable person—,” Scalia wrote, “praise for his virtues can cause us to forget that we are praying for, and giving thanks for, God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner.” The resurrection of Christ, not the virtues of the deceased, should be at the center of a Christian funeral service.

Prayer for the dead is another one of those confounding pious practices that Justice Scalia held up for imitation, and it is a fitting end of On Faith. Quoting his father’s letter to Dr. Goodloe in his funeral mass homily, son Fr. Paul Scalia exhorted those present “to show affection for [Justice Scalia] and do good by praying for him: that all stain of sin be washed away, that all wounds be healed, that he be purified of all that is not Christ. That he rest in peace.”

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on March 17, 2020 at 23:51:17 pm

“With respect to the constitutional law of abortion, the relevant difference between Scalia and Kennedy or Brennan is not that Scalia was a better Catholic, but that he was a better judge.”

With all due respect, it is not possible to be an autonomous Catholic, for to be Catholic is to be in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, outside of which, there is no Salvation, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

“It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost; For It Is “Through Him, With Him, And In Him, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost”, that Holy Mother Church exists.

To be Catholic, is to keep, hold, and teach, and thus believe and affirm, that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life And Of Marriage, and thus The Author Of our unalienable Right to Life, to Liberty, and to The Pursuit Of Happiness.

That is what separates the Faithful Justice Scalia from the unfaithful, who deny the very essence of Perfect Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Salvational Love.

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Nancy D.
on March 17, 2020 at 20:58:14 pm

Justice Scalia's legacy covers more than constitutional law, as Professor Walsh's essay makes apparent.

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Paladin
on March 18, 2020 at 11:44:55 am

I note that L&L had posted 5-6 essays and book reviews from the period March 4 through March 16 on which readers, myself included, had commented, some at some length and which are worthy of reading. Yet, in reposting those very same 5-6 articles today using its new format L&L did not repost the readers' comments. That is a shame.

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Paladin
on March 18, 2020 at 15:02:46 pm

Truth is after all a destination, not a point of departure.” Sometimes we do not recognize Truth, even if He Is Standing Right In Front Of us.

Well, since no one seems to want to say it, I will.

The Globalists who deny Genesis, and thus God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, are no longer Clothed With The Word Of God, and are indeed quite Naked.

“The principle of contradiction holds, even for revelation.”   For, “revelation is not contradictory to reason, for if it were we could in no way believe it.”

“Queen and Mother, stretch thy arms to us, raise us up to thy Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart. Allow us to rest our heads on thy heart and thus become saints and apostles! Queen of the Holy Rosary grant us the strength to fight thy enemies!”

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Nancy
on March 18, 2020 at 15:07:04 pm

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2020/03/17/dr-faucis-mysterious-math-the-quantifying-today-reflects-where-we-were-a-week-ago-today-cannot-be-quantified-until-next-week/

The purpose of Government is to secure our unalienable Right to Life, to Liberty, and to The Pursuit Of Happiness that can only be endowed to us from The True God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

“That to secure these Rights, governments are instituted by men...”

“Guidelines will evolve as doctors learn more.” And yet what is it exactly that doctors have learned, that has resulted in such a dramatic change in the guidelines?

What more have we learned about this virus?

We now know it is not possible to contain or eradicate this virus.
We have been told, like the flu, most of those who get this virus, will, be mildly affected. Why is the goal to try to isolate and contain a whole Nation rather than isolate and protect the elderly, infirm, and those susceptible to infections due to compromised immune systems?

Health Care has improved tremendously, to the point that one cannot deny the fact that undue stress and anxiety will only serve to stress one’s immune system, adding to the number of persons among the immune compromised that would not have been if it was not for the undue stress our leaders are causing by not justifying their extreme reaction to the Coronavirus with Scientific facts.

Andrew Cuomo, claims it is necessary to isolate and contain a whole Nation, in order to save lives. How can a Globalism that denies God, and thus The Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, save lives, for
“When God Is denied, human Dignity disappears.” -Pope Benedict XVI,
There is no greater danger to both body and soul than a globalism that denies God and thus, the Sanctity of Love, Of Life, and of Marriage.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/one-world-trade-center-lit-up-to-celebrate-abortion-includes-a-memorial-to

https://aul.org/2019/04/15/new-york-gov-andrew-cuomo-advocates-suicide-by-physician/

And then there is this:

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/sasse-rips-pelosi-for-trying-to-smuggle-hyde-amendment-loophole-into-coronavirus-package/

It has now been demonstrated that It is not possible to “minimize the risk” of the Coronavirus, by isolating and containing a whole Nation without causing “Coronavirus Phobia”, just as it it would not be possible to “minimize the risk” of catching the Flu by isolating and containing a whole Nation without causing “Flu Phobia” every single year when a new unknown, or different type of Flu virus appears causing fatalities.

It is possible to minimize the risk of this particular viral infection by washing hands, keeping things clean, isolating oneself if one is sick, and protecting the elderly, infirm, and those susceptible to infections due to compromised immune systems, without frightening our citizens, including our children, and destroying a robust economy.

The question is, if it is not possible to contain or eradicate this virus, and we have been told,continuously, most of those who get this virus, will, like the flu, be mildly affected, why try to isolate and contain a whole Nation rather than isolate and protect the elderly, infirm, and those susceptible to infections?

The number One Reason not to isolate those 80% of the population who will have mild to moderate symptoms is so that they can build up immunity.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320110619.htm

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Nancy
on March 18, 2020 at 15:18:16 pm

I will also Pray that Our Holy Father Benedict, if he has not yet done so, will do The Consecration of Russia to Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart, exactly as Our Blessed Mother requested.

Imagine if we spent all our efforts protecting those most vulnerable from harm. Only Good can come from it.

What has always been needed to conquer Death, is Life-affirming, Life-sustaining Love, Salvational Love. For Christ Has Revealed, Through His Life, His Passion, And His Death On The Cross, No Greater Love Is There Than This,To Desire Salvational For One’s Beloved.

“I give to you a New Commandment, Love one another as I Have Loved you.” - Jesus The Christ

Love exists in relationship, not in isolation. Let us join together to aid and protect the vulnerable, which cannot be done in isolation.

Dear Blessed Mother Mary, Destroyer Of All Heresy, Who Through Your Fiat, Affirmed The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, And Thus The Fact That There Is Only One Begotten Son Of God, One Word Of God Made Flesh, One Lamb Of God Who Can Take Away The Sins Of This World, Our Only Savior, Jesus The Christ, Thus There Can Only Be One Spirit Of Perfect Complementary Love Between The Father And His Only Begotten Son, Who Must Proceed From Both The Father And His Only Begotten Son, In The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Please Intercede for us❤️

“It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost; It Is “Through Christ, With Christ, And In Christ, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost”, that Holy Mother Church exists.

The denial of The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, is the source of all heresy, including the modernist heresy of a globalism that in denying Genesis, denies the fact that The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage.

It is time for a New Spring Time, so open wide those Catholic Churches once The Consecration has been done!

“Hail The Cross, Our Only Hope.” Amen

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Nancy
on March 19, 2020 at 14:58:22 pm

Today, I will leave you with this, as I am sure the Faithful Justice would agree, “So That Nothing Will Be Lost”.

Everything that is is passing, Only Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy, remains.
May Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart Triumph Soon-
And may the souls of the Faithful Departed rest in The Peace Of Christ.
It is possible to have both Liberty and a Happy Death in a Nation that desires to be, “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All”.

With Thanks and Gratitude for the Faithful Priests who continue to serve our Lord and His Church, In The Year Of The Holy Eucharist❤️ “Be not afraid”, and “Keep up the Good work.”

Thank you Professor Walsh for the “Courage To Be Catholic”.
And to all who travel here, Godspeed On The Feast Of Saint Joseph❤️

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Nancy
on March 19, 2020 at 14:59:30 pm

Today, I will leave you with this, as I am sure the Faithful Justice would agree, “So That Nothing Will Be Lost”.

Everything that is is passing, Only Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy, remains.
May Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart Triumph Soon-
And may the souls of the Faithful Departed rest in The Peace Of Christ.
It is possible to have both Liberty and a Happy Death in a Nation that desires to be, “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All”.

With Thanks and Gratitude for the Faithful Priests who continue to serve our Lord and His Church, In The Year Of The Holy Eucharist❤️ “Be not afraid”, and “Keep up the Good work.”

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Nancy
on March 19, 2020 at 16:43:06 pm

Somebody say Amen!

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Paladin
on March 19, 2020 at 15:02:52 pm

——————————————————J.M.J.————————————————-

Today, I will leave you with this, as I am sure the Faithful Justice would agree, “So That Nothing Will Be Lost”.

Everything that is is passing, Only Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy, remains.
May Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart Triumph Soon-
And may the souls of the Faithful Departed rest in The Peace Of Christ.
It is possible to have both Liberty and a Happy Death in a Nation that desires to be, “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All”.

With Thanks and Gratitude for the Faithful Priests who continue to serve our Lord and His Church, In The Year Of The Holy Eucharist❤️ “Be not afraid”, and “Keep up the Good work.”

read full comment
Image of Nancy
Nancy
Trackbacks
on September 17, 2020 at 06:28:15 am

[…] here in 2017.  The second volume, On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer (2019) (reviewed here), like the first, was edited by Whelan and Scalia’s son, Christopher. All three volumes […]

on October 13, 2020 at 07:38:02 am

[…] here in 2017.  The second volume, On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer(2019) (reviewed here), like the first, was edited by Whelan and Scalia’s son, Christopher. All three volumes feature […]

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.