The homily of Fr. David O'Connell, president of Catholic University.
What is the measure of a man? This question has been asked over and again from the beginning of time, throughout history, by all of those who share our human mortality. What is the measure of a man? It is a good question; it is an important question; it is an enduring question; it is an ultimate question when we face the death of someone we know and love. Someone like Tony Snow.
No one of us among his family or friends believes that Tony’s life was long enough. And, yet — in the face of its brevity — we respond in faith, we who are believers, that the measure of a man is not found, as the Book of Wisdom comforts us today, “in terms of years (Wisdom 4:8).” It is, indeed, our faith that reminds us: “the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time. He who pleased God, Wisdom writes, was loved (and) … having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord (Wisdom 4: 7-14).” For the believer, for people of faith, the true measure of a man lies in his efforts to please God.
The passing of anyone we love moves us to question: what is the measure of a man? And whatever your answer may be, whatever our answer may be, we can be sure that the measure of a man is not found in words or titles or length of days but, rather, in deeds done, in a life lived, in a love shared and in the beliefs that made it so. The Gospel of St. Matthew tells us today: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, clean of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the just" (Matthew 5: 1-12) … these are the measure of a Christian man. For Tony Snow, these were the ways he embraced his own advice to “live boldly” and to “live a whole life.”
When he spoke to our graduates last spring, Tony shared an especially poignant moment and profound thought about his latest battle with cancer. He reflected that “while God doesn’t promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity.”
For Tony Snow, that promise has been fulfilled.
Remarks of President Bush with special attention to his children.
For Robbie, Kendall, and Kristi, you are in our thoughts and prayers, as well. We thank you for sharing your dad with us. He talked about you all the time. He wanted nothing more than your happiness and success. You know, I used to call Tony on the weekends to get his advice. And invariably, I found him with you on the soccer field, or at a swim meet, or helping with your homework. He loved you a lot. Today I hope you know that we loved him a lot, too.