On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by Antonin Scalia

(New York: Crown Forum, 2019), 237

  • I bought this book to have when I saw that the funeral homily preached by Scalia's son Fr. Paul D. Scalia was included (video here) in full, which begins:
    >We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more; a man loved by many, scored by others; a man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth. (214)
  • the Mass struck him when he was the only one who showed up for a Mass at Boy Scout camp, but the priest proceeded with just him (3)
  • James Joyce's description of the Catholic Church: "Here comes everybody" (4)
  • "His library was full of authors who combined genuine piety and clear thinking: Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Belloc, Chesterton, Lewis, etc." (7)
  • A Prayer by St. Thomas More (27) is beautiful, especially this part:
    >To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.
  • Being counter-cultural (35): "We should not feel surprised if we find ourselves now and then "out of step." In fact, we should be worried if we are never that way. As Christ told us, we are supposed to be out of step."
  • Judicial humility (39, see also 81):
    >I am sure you also do not honor me for my position on what has become a defining issue for the Catholic Church in America, and indeed throughout the world: abortion. Or at least not for my position as a federal judge regarding the constitutionality of laws prohibiting that act. I accept no praise for that from Catholics, but only from lawyers; because I would hold otherwise, whatever my personal views on the practice, if I thought the law were different.
  • Scalia defines four stages of our national development (44-46):
    1. A Christian nation
    2. A Judeo-Christian nation in which monotheistic religion in general was favored, though no particular denomination
    3. A secular nation
  • His history final exam (49-50) (cf 2021-07-20-Witness to Hope 743):
    >One of the best lessons I learned was in the course of my oral comprehensive exam in my major subject, history, at the end of senior year. I had done pretty darned well during all of the questioning, and at the end my history professor, Dr. Wilkinson, to whom I am ever indebted, asked me one last, seemingly softball question: if I had to pick a single even as the most significant in all the history I had studied, what would it be? I say it was a softball question because there obviously could not be any single correct answer. So I groped for what might be a good one. What should I say? The Battle of Thermopylae? No, the Battle of Lepanto. No, the French Revolution. No, the Grand Convention of 1787. I forget what answer I have, but it was wrong. The right one, Dr. Wilkinson informed me, was the Incarnation. Well, of course. Point taken, and an unforgettable lesson learned. ^f18981
  • Retreat: "If you don't have a weekend to spare once a year to think exclusively about the things that really matter—well, you haven't planned your life correctly." (56)
  • A recurring theme is the importance of religious practice to the Founders, and the need for a religious foundation to society: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people." (182)
  • from 2021-06-17 A Quick Guide to Today’s Opinions in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: the case decided unanimously by the Supreme Court in Fulton v. Philadelphia upholds Religious Freedom rather narrowly, and leaves unresolved what should replace Scalia's reasoning in Employment Division v. Smith. Scalia's opinion on Smith is given on page 140+ (to -re-read).


  • ~Roman Catholic Daily Missal (Latin) (5)
  • The Witness to Abstract Truth by Hilaire Belloc (23)
  • A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (24, 55, etc.)
  • The Pilgrim's Progress (34, 47)
  • The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (51)