I first met Peter in December, 1932, when George Shuster, then editor of The Commonweal, later president of Hunter College, urged him to get into contact with me because our ideas were so similar, both our criticism of the social order and our sense of personal responsibility in doing something about it. It was not that “the world was too much with us” as we felt that God did not intend things to be as bad as they were. We believed that “in the Cross was joy of Spirit.” We knew that due to original sin, “all nature travailleth and groaneth even until now,” but also believed, as Juliana of Norwich said, that “the worst had already happened,” i.e., the Fall, and that Christ had repaired that “happy fault.” In other words, we both accepted the paradox which is Christianity…
Peter’s teaching was simple, so simple, as one can see from these phrased paragraphs, these Easy Essays, as we have come to call them, that many disregarded them. It was the sanctity of the man that made them dynamic.
Although he synopsized hundreds of books for all of us who were his students, and that meant thousands of pages of phrased paragraphs, these essays were his only original writings, and even during his prime we used them in the paper just as he did in speaking, over and over again. He believed in repeating, in driving his point home by constant repetition, like the dropping of water on the stones which were our hearts.