He is every bit as delightful, funny and wise in person as he is on TV or in front of an audience. He has no big ego and is wonderfully humble and easy to talk with. Don't tell him I said so because he does not appreciate too many compliments. But I did tell him the two most profound and spellbinding homilies I have ever heard were preached by him. One was on the priesthood and one on the English martyrs Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher.
But on Friday afternoon after a casual lunch I was honored to sit in the living room of the Franciscan Friars Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont New York. I interviewed him on the Apostolic Fathers which will be part of the "extras" on our DVD Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith and the full interview will be released in our Greatest Figures of Salvation History DVD.
I asked questions about the first centuries of Christianity. He talked about Sts. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Ireneaus. These are the guys that made me Catholic. Fr. Benedict said they were his friends. We talked about persecution and how the holy men and women of the early Church suffered horribly for their faith (see here) and how they set an example for us in the coming decades as Christians become the object of persecution.
We had a delicious dinner together with the others in the Retreat House and we especially enjoyed a long conversation (almost 2 hours) in the evening with Charles Pendergast who is always at Fr. Benedict's side and who is the editor of all his books and writings. The quaint old houses on the water took us back a century or so. It very much reminded us of our year at L'Abri Fellowship Retreat in the mountains of Switzerland.
Even though we've met before at places like Steubenville and the Ignatius Press Retreat House, Janet and I love this dear man of God more now than ever. He is a treasure and may God give him strength and may he live long on the earth.
Click here to see a delightful picture of Fr. Benedict being himself — explaining the stars and constellations to us.