Remembering Michael Novak
In February, we lost a respected American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist and diplomat – Michael Novak. He played a key role in Legatus’ initial success as he was the speaker at the first chapter event in 1987.
By his own admission, he was skeptical at first, but he came to be a huge supporter of the organization. In Legatus’ 25th anniversary book he said, “There is no organization within the Church, by which I mean the existing circle of pastors and bishops in the U.S. [who fill that need]. Tom made [Legatus] a program in revitalizing the Catholic life of everybody who took part. [Members] return to the sacraments, pray frequently, and learn more about their religion. I think the payoff in every individual life has been very satisfying. It whets the appetite for more.”
If you read any of Novak’s brilliant writing, so much of it is focused on the topic of freedom. Contrary to what our society commonly believes about freedom, it is not simply a license to act with abandon. Rather, freedom for us as Catholics refers to our ability and indeed, responsibility, to choose the good or that which leads us to the good. We must be free to choose the good things that orient us toward God because he is the ultimate good.
As Legates, we choose daily how to live out our freedom professionally and personally. We are always working, by the grace of God, to choose the good for ourselves and for the lives we touch through our business endeavors.
We are blessed to live in a nation that honors individual and religious freedom, a nation where we can come together as Catholics every month and exercise that freedom through the recitation of the rosary, participation in the sacrament of Reconciliation and reception of Christ himself in the Eucharist.
In addition to the religious freedom exercised during Legatus meetings, there are many other freedoms offered to Legates every month: the freedom to be vulnerable among your peers, the freedom to authentically relax and learn from an inspiring Catholic speaker, and freedom from an “ask” at the end of the evening. I encourage all members to respect this “safe haven”, as Tom Monaghan points out in Legatus@30, to encourage trust among fellow Legates, and to promote the open sharing of ideas. It is this freedom that makes Legatus unique and special to our 5,000+ members.
Michael Novak’s friendship with Legatus and, indeed, contributions to the whole Church will carry on for many years. Requiescat in pace.
STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.