A three-year old rolled down a small grassy hill outside Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University. He laughed, ran back up, and rolled down again. Chatting with him, I suggested that this looked like a lot of fun. A priest came by and overheard us. With a big smile, he suggested I should try it too.
That was my first meeting with Fr Ray Ryland.
There was something magical about his smile. My wife and I saw it often over the following twenty-one years. Every time he celebrated the Eucharist, his smile was radiant. More than his smile, his homilies drew large numbers of students from the university. Here was something special — a married priest, who argued persuasively on behalf of celibate priesthood, a brilliant teacher who loved to “watch the lights go on” in his listeners, a man for others who loved people and left them keenly aware that they were loved by God and by Father Ray. All this and much more.
Be sure to treat yourself to Tim Ryland’s biography of his father included in this book.
What do you have when you combine an Episcopal priest turned faithfully Catholic and a lawyer with a brilliant intellect? Add to that, training as a Ph.D. in theology? Spice the recipe with a devastatingly quick wit and keen sense of humor. And add a family life which takes every opportunity to celebrate shared pilgrimage toward, and service in, the Catholic Church. And (did I mention) love for people? And that smile?
This only begins to describe why Fr Ray Ryland was an ideal choice to write The Catholic Answer: Faith column for over ten years. His responses to questions, set out in this book, are incisive. He could see both sides of an issue. For example, he knew from the inside the Evangelical and mainline streams of Christianity, and appreciated their strengths. But as a convert, he winsomely presented positions that were utterly loyal to the wisdom of the Magisterium.
I could go on. But your time is better spent reading Fr Ray Ryland’s material. Enjoy!
Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist, 2015
P.S. I didn’t roll down the grassy hill. Too bad. Knowing Fr Ray as I have in the years since, I really should have!