Looking ahead to Justice Scalia's funeral, with a flashback to wisdom from his son, the priest

So what mattered the most in the end, the contents of Justice Antonin Scalia's heart or his head?

Where did the work of the Catholic believer (some journalists called him a "fundamentalist") end and the fierce advocate of Constitutional "originalism" begin?

At mid-week, when host Todd Wilken and I recorded or next "Crossroads" podcast -- click here to tune that in -- I was still wrestling with the following quote from Notre Dame University law professor Richard Garnett, which was featured in a Time magazine think piece about Scalia's impact on American law and culture.

“A big part of his legacy will be how navigated the relationship between one’s deeply held faith commitments and one’s role as a judge,” Garnett, of Notre Dame, says. “For him, the way to navigate that relationship, it was not to compromise one’s religious faith or water it down, it was to distinguish between the legal questions the judge has the power to answer and the religious commitments that a judge has the right to hold, just like all of us do.”

In other words, something like this? "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." That is never an easy task.

While the news media remains focused on the political fallout after Scalia's death, I think it will be interesting to note the fine details of what is sure to be a grand funeral service in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We know that President Barack Obama will be missing, but how many bishops, archbishops and cardinals will find their way into the "choir"? To what degree will the service -- as the justice desired -- focus on basic Christian beliefs about eternity, as opposed to hints about legal wars in the here and now?

Check out this slice taken from a Washington Post follow-up article on Scalia and his family ties. See any facts in here that could have an impact on the funeral Mass?

A devout Catholic, Scalia attended Georgetown University, where he was the valedictorian of the Class of 1957. In his graduation speech, he exhorted his fellow students: “If we will not be leaders of a real, a true, a Catholic intellectual life, no one will.”
Scalia’s old-line Catholicism was integral to his identity. He objected to the liberalization of the church that came with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and he drove out of his way to find churches that still celebrated Mass in Latin, rather than newly allowed English.
Scalia attended Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude in 1960. That same year, he married Maureen McCarthy, a Radcliffe student he had met on a blind date.
The couple eventually had nine children, and numerous members of the family are expected at the funeral services.

One Scalia son will be highly involved in the rite -- Father Paul Scalia, who will preach and serve as celebrant for the Mass.

What will he have to say? You know that he is well aware of his father's convictions about the tone and content of sermons in Catholic funerals.

When I saw the news confirming Father Scalia's roles in the rite, I flashed back to an event in 2001 when I heard him speak about the limits of government law and the importance of living out one's faith in the practical details of daily life. Here is the top of that column:

As the boy grew to become a man, he explored the marble chambers that pump power into American politics. He worked as an intern. He rode the private subway that whisks legislators to the Capitol. He took his share of power lunches. Finally, he decided that his vocation was in a higher court.
"One day it hit me," said Father Paul Scalia. "To save things, it is going to take more than a really good Supreme Court decision. Good thing, too, because we're not going to have one anytime soon. I am very, very pessimistic about the ability of government policies ... to change things." ...
Politics are important, said Scalia. But this is an age in which the moral decisions that shape private and public life are as likely to be affected by MTV and movies, as by high courts and legislatures.
Politics may "may slow down our cultural decay," he said. "I am not very optimistic about its ability to stop it."

Father Scalia's topic that day was the need for faithful Catholics -- gay and straight -- to carry on with the struggle to follow their church's moral teachings in an age in which the culture is turning against them. The culture, he stressed several times, was changing at every level, from the world of entertainment to the highest levels of American legal life.

Today, many people hear Catholic doctrines and hear, not a call to discipline and personal liberation, but radical limitations to personal freedoms -- period.

This is especially true, he said, in an age in which the Supreme Court -- in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision -- has linked liberty to "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
With a sarcastic shrug, the priest noted that this decision was based on the "defining the universe section of the constitution." He said this has led to "a deadly understanding of freedom" and what Pope John Paul II calls a "culture of death" in which the weak -- the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn -- can be crushed by the freedoms of the strong.
Freedom "does not mean doing whatever we want," argued Father Scalia. "Freedom means the ability to do what we ought to do."

After his speech, I followed Scalia to the parking lot. I wanted to make sure that he knew that a journalist had been present and, yes, had recorded his talk. I asked if he had discussed these topics lately with his father. What about that sharp quip on the "defining the universe section of the constitution"? Was that his own?

Father Scalia smiled, but declined to go there. All he would add, on the record, was, "My father is more than capable of speaking for himself."

"Amen" to that.

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