Like many Americans I am mourning the passing of Tony Snow, the journalist and White House spokesman who lost his battle with colon cancer on Saturday.
Tony and I had many friends in common and knew each other a bit. Years ago, before he joined Fox News, I met him in Washington and bumped into him occasionally on the road at functions and conferences. He was a class act and a passionate journalist. He was also a committed and practicing Catholic; though I hear little mention of it in the scant media remembrances.
Over the last few weeks another Sunday morning Washington institution, Tim Russert was saluted from all quarters for his civility and faith. Russert's Catholicism was highlighted in nearly every televised memorial. Not so with Tony Snow. And this is unfortunate.
Tony was not only a convert to Catholicism, but he publically stood with the Church on all those issues that separate the goats from the sheep. He was pro-life, an advocate for the less fortunate, and committed to the common good. Still, near as I can tell, no Cardinals came rushing forward to minister to his co-workers or are tripping over one another to celebrate his funeral Mass. As a friend observed recently, "When you do what you're supposed to do the praise comes in heaven."
According to Tony, his brush with colon cancer (which claimed his mother's life) deepened his faith and instigated a reappraisal of priorities. In 2007, during a commencement speech at Catholic University, Tony offered his thoughts on faith. He said:
"Don’t shrink from pondering God’s role in the universe or Christ’s. You see, it’s trendy to reject religious reflection as a grave offense against decency. That’s not only cowardly. That’s false. Faith and reason are knitted together in the human soul. So don’t leave home without either one... Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved. I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I have heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayers... never underestimate the power of other people’s love and prayer. They have incredible power. It’s as if I’ve been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they had made me weightless. The soldiers in the army just wanted to do a nice thing for somebody. As I mentioned, a lot of people — everybody out here — wants to do that same thing.”
As Paul said 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' And once you realize that there is something greater than you out there, and then you have to decide, “Do I acknowledge it and do I act upon it?” You have to at some point surrender yourself. And there is nothing worthwhile in your life that will not at some point require an act of submission.”
Tony submitted himself to the Church, and later, in his struggle with cancer, to God's will. This later submission is difficult for us to accept, but it is perhaps Tony's last lesson for us. May we all follow his example and learn to accept God's Will with the same grace and consistency that he displayed in both public and private life. He will be greatly missed.
Rest in peace Tony.
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