Do you know Father Daniel Lord, SJ? You would have if you were an American Catholic in the 1950s. The legendary Jesuit priest was what Daniel Endres, a doctoral student at Catholic University, called a "larger-than-life figure of the seeingly confidence, cohesive preconcilar church in America." Endres’s article about Lord in America from 2005 is here. "Catholics," he wrote, "especially the generation that came of age during the interwar years, were undoubtedly influenced by Lord’s work. He directed the sodality movement and edited its popular magazine, The Queen’s Work, wrote hundreds of literary and dramatic works and led the crusade to safeguard Americans from immoral films."
"Lord remains an intriguing personality," writes Endres, "in part because of the divergent assessments of his life and ministry. Not always welcomed or respected, he encountered his fiercest opposition from the film industry, where he was seen as a meddlesome priest set on ruining Hollywood. Similarly, Lord was not always appreciated within the church or by his confreres. Among the Society of Jesus’ band of teachers and scholars, Lord was sometimes viewed as a “popularizer,” who exhibited an anti-intellectual approach to the faith unbefitting a ’son of Ignatius.’ Some considered his use of drama and the mass media to communicate the faith a less than noble means for teaching ’serious’ truths. Because of his specialized work, Lord’s ministry required him to travel frequently from diocese to diocese, which made him appear at times as a renegade Jesuit and led to the assertion by one American bishop that Lord was an example of the harm that could be done when a priest’s ministry passed outside the control of the bishops."
Why this post on Daniel Lord? Because Dawn Eden over at at The Dawn Patrol has unearthed this fascinating recording of Daniel Lord discussing his diagnosis of cancer and his upcoming death, in what she says is the only known recording of the "larger-than-life" Jesuit priest. It’s here and deserves a listen. It’s a window into an ebullient man with great faith.
James Martin, SJ