Friday, October 28, 2011

A beginner's guide to Father Daniel A. Lord S.J.

After Father Joseph Mary Wolfe MFVA read Father Daniel A. Lord S.J.'s article "Cancer Is My Friend" in his homily on EWTN yesterday, many people were moved to search online for the article. I know this because their web searches led them to some of the posts I have written on this blog about Father Lord (1888-1955), whose life and witness is a great source of inspiration to me. (Click the "Daniel A. Lord" tag below to see those posts.)

Since several readers have also written to me during the past day to ask for information about Father Lord, here is a brief "beginner's guide" to help those who would like to get to know him better:

  • Audio: A spoken-word LP record by Father Lord titled So I'm Dying of Cancer! is available online as a free download (right-click the album title to download). The first half of the recording features an interview with Father Lord from June 1954, five months after his diagnosis with terminal cancer, while the second half is a talk of his that was apparently given before his cancer diagnosis, perhaps in February 1953 (judging by the Sunday Mass reading he mentions). If you thought Father Joseph Mary's homily was inspiring, listen to this recording to hear the same message in Father Lord's own voice. It was generously put online by Kliph Nesteroff of Classic Television Showbiz, who owns the only copy of the LP known to exist.

    Another type of audio offering of Father Lord's work that is available for free online comes via a very thoughtful woman known only as Marie Therese, who has created audiobooks of three of his novels. (That link will take you to the listing of the novels' titles; click on an title to see options for downloading the book.) I've listened to one of them so far, Red Arrows in the Night, and found it very engaging. It's a delightful World War II-era spy thriller with heroes and a heroine who find time for attending morning Mass together.
  • Books and pamphlets: The best books to start with are Father Lord's autobiography Played by Ear and Letters to My Lord, a posthumous work comprising letters he wrote to God in January 1954, before and after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer. Both are beautifully written, with Letters to My Lord being particularly poignant (a brief excerpt is here, adapted into the form of a poem). Used copies of both titles are available cheaply from online stores, and Played by Ear is available as a free download from the Internet Archive.

    Although Father Lord wrote many books, he was better known in his time for writing about three hundred pamphlets, which had combined sales in the tens of millions. I have found two websites that offer free PDF files of some of them. To make your search easier, here are specialized links that will take you to Google's lists of the Father Lord pamphlets to be found on each of the following sites: and (Note that these sites' webmasters have re-typed the pamphlets, so the text you are reading is not necessarily the original text. Usually, save for some typographical errors, the re-typed versions are faithful to the originals, but one webmaster occasionally inserts his own commentary in brackets, which can be intrusive, as with "That Wonderful Sunday Mass.")

    If you would like to see what Father Lord's pamphlets originally looked like, "All American Girl," a vocation story about a Carmelite, is available as a free download from the Internet Archive. (That link will take you to a page that lists all the Father Lord downloads available from the archive, which also include the beautiful children's pamphlet "The Story of Christmas," as well as Played by Ear and the audiobooks already mentioned. Two links for "All American Girl" are listed—click the one that's farther down the page, as the first one doesn't work.)

I hope these links help you get to know and love Father Lord as I do. His work has greatly inspired me, particularly in writing my upcoming book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (due April 2012 from Ave Maria Press). In particular, his apostolic spirit, which is so contagious, has increased my desire to bring those who are suffering an understanding of God's fatherly love. One day, after I complete my studies in theology, I hope to postulate his cause for canonization, as I believe that, like his heroine St. Therese, he is spending his time in heaven doing good on earth.

UPDATE, 10/29/11: Some readers are looking for more of Father Lord's writings on how his cancer diagnosis became an occasion to draw nearer to God. The "Cancer Is My Friend" story linked above is essentially a shorter version of an article he published in the July 1954 issue of Catholic Digest titled "My Good Angel of Death." If you would like to read the longer piece, I would recommend e-mailing Catholic Digest's editors and asking them to post it on the publication's website. They have posted articles from their archives in the past, so perhaps they would post the Father Lord one if they knew there was a demand for it. You can find the editors' names, along with links to their e-mail address, at the "Meet Our Team" page at

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