As many of you may already know, Stratford Caldecott died on July 17 at the age of 60, after a long struggle with cancer. He was a treasure to all who knew him or were otherwise touched by his life and work, and we will feel the world a lesser place now for his absence. His has been and will remain a guiding light for all of us at Angelico Press. Please keep Stratford and his family in your prayers in the coming weeks.
Requiescat in pace, Stratford.
The life and work of Stratford Caldecott was devoted to the service of the truth, beauty, and goodness of God, thus opening up minds and hearts to the wonder of the Creator and creation, including our very selves. Below we here at Angelico share what Stratford’s work has meant to us.
Author Charlotte Ostermann:
I discovered Stratford through his book, Beauty for Truth’s Sake. I wrote to him with profound gratitude, not just because it resonated so deeply with my own experience and thoughts about education, but because his book had opened a real conversation between us already. It seemed he was holding up a flag on a battle field to rally his troops, and I wanted to be among them! Here was a Catholic leader who, clearly, had so much to teach me, but his writing had the tone of a fellow student, a humility and teachable spirit that could open as generously to a fellow human being as a child opens to nature’s beauty.
I was amazed when his hand-written response arrived in the mail – love condescending as courtesy – to encourage me in my own, much smaller, work. Just knowing he existed, cared about the arts, the environment, respectful interfaith dialogue, justice in economics, reform of education, engagement of the culture and, above all, looked boldly at all things because of His strong faith, made me stronger. How I would love to have met him in person, but I’m so thankful for the technologies that made our short friendship possible.
Fr. Luigi Giussani has called freedom “the correspondence to reality in the totality of its factors,” and I cannot think of a person I’ve ever known who so fully corresponded to all the reality he faced. We so need lived examples of the kind of man it takes to look out at this crazy world and see “the radiance of being” piercing through it everywhere. There are many answers possible to the question, “What is the reason for your hope?” One of mine will forever be, “Stratford Caldecott”.
Author Craig Bernthal:
I remember vividly the experience of reading my first Stratford Caldecott book, Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-Enchantment of Education. I was in a little café in Traverse City, Michigan, and I found myself so excited by Stratford’s ideas that I had to put the book down repeatedly to catch my breath and think. Here was someone who saw the deep connection between truth and beauty in the world, and in those places I thought least likely to move me: mathematics and science. Stratford was reconnecting the sciences to theology. It was the absence of this connection that had disillusioned me with my geology major when I was a student at Michigan Tech, and to read Stratford was to have the sciences given back to me in the way I had originally wanted them. It was a wonderful gift, a gift multiplied by the beauty and clarity in which Stratford expressed it.
It took me several more years and books to understand that Stratford was expressing a Catholic understanding of the world whose roots went deep into history. In his work of recovery, Stratford passed on the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, and awe and wonder, and I suspect fortitude as well, because truth and beauty make us strong: “The angels are closer than we think. And the way is open. The intellect seeks truth, and it seeks beauty for truth’s sake, but the substance of truth is love.”
Author and editor Philip Zaleski, written last month in conjunction with the launching of the new Angelico Press/Second Spring imprint:
My wife Carol Zaleski and I first met Stratford and Léonie Caldecott in the mid-1980s., when we all lived in the Boston area pursuing various occupations as scholars, writers, and editors. Léonie, at the time a young free-lance writer, wandered into the offices of a now-defunct journal where I worked as a very young “senior editor.” We struck up a conversation, discovered our mutual love of the Catholic Church, and Léonie uttered the providential words, “You must come to dinner with my husband and me.” A few days later, Carol and I knocked on the door of a small apartment in Beacon Hill and a lifelong friendship began.
Thirty years later, I can readily assess the influence of the Caldecotts upon myself and my wife. Through the lovely example of their faith, kindness, intelligence, and enterprise, they showed us the richness and fullness of Catholic life. In time Stratford became Carol’s godfather, Léonie her godmother and also godmother to our eldest son. As our friendship deepened, we participated when we could in numerous projects initiated and led by the Caldecotts – Oxford’s Centre for Faith and Culture, Second Spring Journal, book projects, conferences, and the like. Always, our mutual love of the Lord sustained our efforts.
I think it’s fair to say that Carol and I stand in awe of the Caldecotts. Their mutual projects – Centre, website, conferences, and so on – have been a beacon for Catholics seeking a profound form of evangelization true to the tradition yet open to the modern world. Strat’s many books have done much to broaden and deepen Catholic intellectual life on a wide variety of fronts, from Tolkien studies to the relationship of Catholic orthodoxy and esoterica, Léonie’s plays, poems, essays, reviews, and her work with The Rose Round (a group for young Catholic girls) have been similarly pioneering and inspiring. Second Spring Books is the Caldecott’s latest venture in their life-long enterprise; may it be a resounding success!