The Catholic Herald is a venerable Catholic magazine, and I was honored to join them as a Contributing Editor earlier this year. I was so honored, in fact, that I wanted to do something to help boost the magazine in America. The promotional idea we came up was the Daily Herald, and the response has been enormous, far exceeding our expectations in terms of new readers, subscriptions, traffic, and recognition by other leading publications.
Originally I had suggested a brief “thought for the day” — or a Neuhaus-inspired “while we’re at it” — which seemed much more manageable than “a column a day.” But in the actual writing, I found that unpacking any concise thought I had took me the length of a column, and column-writing took me considerably more time than I anticipated. And I enjoyed it. Getting into the habit of writing every single day, interacting with readers, and other writers was a very good discipline for me.
Yet I must also admit that writing 44 columns over the past two months have utterly exhausted me — and increased my great respect for the hard-working columnists who do this every day for years.
Since I am a full-time professor, and not a full-time columnist, I had to write at night, after the kids have been bathed and put to bed. As well, writing in haste in the twilight hours usually guaranteed one poor night’s rest after another, especially when a toddler would rise before the sun. By the time the morning coffee was made, the piece just written hours before was hitting the micro-commentary cycle of social media, just as I was starting to think about what I’d write later on, at the end of another long day.
After reflecting on where most of my energy for writing should be directed — towards my book on The City of God — I have decided that I can no longer write a daily column. The Daily Herald did what we wanted it to do, and it has served its purpose. My hope is that my daily columns have started some important conversations which can now proceed at a more pastoral pace.
I am immensely grateful to so many generous readers — and even to a few ungenerous ones — for a vigorous and often illuminating conversation during Eastertide. I’d also like to praise the editors who worked hard did to bring my columns to the page every single day. Heartfelt thanks to each of you, readers and editors alike!
Fittingly, I’ll return with my twice-weekly column as soon as Ordinary Time begins next week.