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A Man of Letters

As we were preparing this issue for publication, I received in the mail a gift, a newly published book of poetry titled The Cast of Valor (St. Augustine’s Press). The gift was precious to me because its author is Rollin Lasseter, my friend, teacher, and mentor (and This Rock author). But the world should hold it dear because it is good poetry, a rare thing in any age but rarer in our own, rarer because men of letters are rarer—if not almost extinct. Indeed, the term is antiquated enough to need some explanation. A man of letters is deeply learned, his mind furnished with the great ideas of the best thinkers throughout time. Less apparent but as critical, however, is his understanding of the sacred nature of words. Without them, soul cannot communicate with soul, and human community is all but impossible. The man of letters knows that words are sacred only insofar as they point us to Truth; otherwise they are only so much babble. And if the man of letters is a Christian, he knows the deepest meaning of words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That mystery will inform his thinking and writing, will guide him away from the trite and the narcissistic and will help him to see into the heart of things so that he can reveal it in a new way to others.

Dr. Lasseter passed to his eternal reward on May 8, 2008. He leaves behind the legacy of a life well-lived: a lovely and devoted wife, six children, eight grandchildren, innumerable students whose lives he touched, and a lifetime of writing.

In this issue, Leon Suprenant offers his characteristic wisdom about marriage and fatherhood in “Real Men Love Their Wives as Christ Loves His Church” on page 18. The following excerpt from The Cast of Valor offers a complementary wisdom on the subject:

To father any son is to assent
To sacrifice. All sons are He, our lines
Illusion that we have another life
To live deeds we have missed. Our gift is care.
The Father, holding in his arm the Child, From the concerns of carpentry is called
Away into the greater Art, the pain
Of joining for a house not his, not bone
Of his bone, flesh of flesh, but his by love.
To father any son is to assent.
(from “Joseph—A Holy Way”)


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