Stratford Caldecott: Farewell

July 18, 2014 | 1 comment

A man with the name “Stratford Caldecott” might be a spy in a Bond novel, or the male lead in a Merchant-Ivory period picture. But the one I remember here was a writer and editor, a disciple of Christ, and a gentleman. And he passed away yesterday at 60.

I knew “Strat” a little.  For a brief period we were colleagues in a very indirect way, when the Catholic publisher that employed me became affiliated with the Catholic college that employed him. A few times he made the trip from Oxford (where, among other things, he managed a G.K. Chesterton library and study center) to our offices in New England, where I got to enjoy the company of the man whose contributions to Catholic letters I had enjoyed for many years.

We talked about books, and faith, about God and art. We talked about beer and snow and hobbits. He was slightly built and spoke more quietly than any less-humble man with his gifts  would have done. Indeed, he exuded modesty and class in all things. I’m sure I did too much of the talking on each occasion, but he always listened perceptively, looked me in the eye, never showed a sign of impatience. He seemed to have a gift—a good editor’s gift, surely—for taking half-baked and imperfectly worded ideas offered to him and distilling them, making you feel like you knew what you were talking about.

We touched base again, and for the last time, in early 2012, right after he had published an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. In that article (“Beyond Faith and Reason,” Jan.-Feb. 2012) he advocated a renewed (or reformed) approach to apologetics that weaves together conventional approaches to defending the Faith—with its arguments, analogies, and prooftexts—with “poetic and mystical” realities such as beauty and the imagination. For the goal, he said, is not merely to win arguments or even converts: it is to raise people to Christ; it is transcendence.

The purpose of apologetics is not just to get more people into the churches on a Sunday: It is to help us rise from the ground level of our animal nature to a higher spiritual plane and eventually to come face to face with God in true knowledge—knowledge that is identical with love.

I found Strat’s ideas in that piece intriguing and wrote to him about building them out into a larger work, perhaps a book. He replied that he was “quite into this whole topic” and was planning to expand on it “after some things I am working on first.” We discussed the concept a little more and then broke off the correspondence with mutual hopes for future cooperation. I didn’t find out till later that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just three months before.

He never wrote that book; instead he has come face to face with God in the knowledge that is identical with love. No doubt he’ll take the trade. Rest in perpetual light, Strat.


Todd Aglialoro is the director of publishing for Catholic Answers Press. He studied theology at Franciscan University, the University of Fribourg, and the International Theological Institute. A New York native, Todd now lives in the San Diego area with his wife, seven children, and one small bird.

Comments by Members

#1  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Didn't know Statford but he seems like a pretty cool guy, he will be in my prayers. Sounds like there is an opportunity for you to write a book Todd, and perhaps you will be inspired to write it through the intercessions of "Strat." I would be first in line to buy a copy because I am a firm believer that apologetics is way more than trading proof texts. I often catch myself doing that but then the love that I have for my faith explodes and can not be contained. The truth is, we are not defending information in an encyclopedia, we are defending Love, the author of love and the eternal source of all love. It is through our Catholic faith, and the Sacraments, that we have face to face encounters with God and receive His love and grace. Through our faith we rise up to meet Christ and it builds upon our relationship with Him on a very personal level. And then, my favorite part, the miracles, when Christ takes notice of our love for Him, comes down to us and blows us away with a gift that is out of this world!!! One way or another we must let this Love come through and be a part of our apologetics. God bless and hope you find the time to write the book Todd!!

July 24, 2014 at 5:38 am PST

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