He Prayed, Worked, and Went to Heaven: A Remembrance of Dan Harrington, SJ

Author’s Note: A great priest and scholar went to God yesterday. There are two pieces remembering his story at length, that you can read here and here. I wanted to post about what I learned seeing him at work as a teacher and a scholar over my years at the STM


My spiritual director recently needed to preach the funeral of a monk: he shared with my a copy of his homily, and at its conclusion, a quote from John Henry Newman caught my eye.  I chased it and down and found it in full:

To the monks, heaven was next door; he formed no plans, had no cares; the ravens of his father Benedict were ever at his side. He went forth in his youth to his work and to his labor until the evening of life; if he lived a day longer, he did a day’s work more; whether he lived many days or few, he labored on to the end of them. He had no wish to see further in advance of his journey than where he was to make his next stage. He plowed and sowed, he prayed, he meditated, he studied, he wrote, he taught, and then he died and went to heaven.

John Henry Newman,  Historical Sketches

Every single day that I happened to be in the study bubble on the second floor in the STM’s academic building, I’d see Dan walking into his office – and out of his office.  He always had with him a bag full of books.  He always walked with purpose.  Into the office.  Out of the office.

As his illness progressed, he walked a bit slower, and left the office a bit earlier.  But he always had that bag of books, he always walked with a purpose.  He never failed to offer comment about the Red Sox when asked.

Into the office.  Out of the office.

Augustine has this beautiful line in one of his sermons, something to the effect that the Word of God though not always heard, is never silent. 

On Wednesday evening at his funeral and whenever I pick up one of his books, I’ll thank God for Dan Harrington’s vocation: making sure the Word of God was heard just a little bit more clearly each day.  

Not a monk, but a Jesuit: he walked, he wrote, he lectured, he answered, he graded, he cheered, he encouraged.  And now he’s gone to heaven.


One thought on “He Prayed, Worked, and Went to Heaven: A Remembrance of Dan Harrington, SJ”

  1. Beautiful words to remember an incredible man, professor and Christian. To this day, I can’t open up a Bible without hearing Dan Harrington’s voice. Heaven is surely rejoicing today.

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