”It is the silence of eternity that unites the soul with God.”
Sister Marie Aimee de Jesus
The air was chilled; winds bent the branches of the trees carrying the low hanging clouds across a grey sky as his Brother Monks bore Brother Justin along the pathway, to the repeated single toll of the tower bell and into the Chapel where, seven times daily they had gathered together in prayer and psalm. There they were met by Father Michael Perry. After he had finished the prayers and sprinkled Holy Water, he paused into the silence of the Chapel for a brief moment and then said in a clear voice: “Welcome home.” Welcome home. Two words that felt to wash the sting of death away. Our pilgrimage of farewell had begun. We then gathered for the Divine Office of None.
Over the next hours family and friends came to the Chapel to bid their farewells. Vespers, Compline, the early next morning’s Vigil and Lauds – the unbroken rhythm of monastic life slowly led to Brother Justin’s funeral Mass, officiated by Father Donald Curtiss. So much was the same: nature in rebirth, bird song sung so clear as it always seems to be in spring, sheep grazing in the fields around the monastery; life in continuance, the unbroken rhythm of God’s creation. Though for us there was the difference; an absence, a separation that can only be bridged by acknowledging that it is not our will but God’s will that is done. True it was a time of great sadness but there was also a joy in the awareness of the life that Brother Justin lived and the gifts he freely gave us. He has left us with a light that will not grow dim and in this manner his spirit will always be present in our eyes, hearts and spirits.
“Grant Him, Eternal Rest” began the service, followed by Scripture readings: Wisdom 3: 1-9 (the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God), Psalm 42 sung: “As a Deer yearns for Living Water”, Romans 5: 5-11 (God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit) and the “Beatitudes”: Matthew 5: 1 – 12a (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God). Members of Brother Justin’s family spoke of the depth of his love and how happy they knew he was in his life at Mount Saviour. This sentiment was so often repeated. Brother Justin was full of joy which we all saw radiating from him into our lives whenever he greeted us. This sentiment was reiterated by Brother John in reflections that were received from those who could not be present. Brother Pierre sang the beautiful hymn: “Going Home”, which brought
to mind the thought that we were participating in Brother Justin’s “Welcome to his eternal home”. After the closing and incensing of Brother Justin, we sang “Amazing Grace” as he left the Chapel, carried by members of his family and his brother monks.
He will return to the Chapel one last time on May 12th with Brother Stephen on the day of their burial.
And life is eternal and love is immortal,
and death is only a horizon,
and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight.
Fr. Bede Jarrett, OP
Stuart~John OB. OSB Mount Saviour Monastery
Photo: Bruce Harkness
6 thoughts on “Welcome Home”
Nicely done. Thank you.
Around Easter time, an unusually large crow kept taking bundles of lining from my flower basket for its nest in the tall tree top opposite me. As I watched and waited over several days, I wondered what message St Benedict was trying to bring to my attention. After reading this heartwarming post about Br Justin, I now understand it was a sign of him being welcomed home.
Very touching piece Br John. I was also blessed to be present at Mt Saviour for Br Justin’s “Going Home.” It was such a rich time meeting and sharing with his sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces, as well as his friends Bruce from Detroit and Nicholas from California. Nick and I were blessed to share memories and sorrows with Br Bruno, a time together he described as “a gem.” Our beloved Brother has indeed fallen into the ground, and he has not remained alone, but is already multiplying a hundredfold in all our hearts and lives. (John 12:24). Rest well, good, joyful and faithful servant. ~ Br David-Peter Tigchelaar obl OSB Mt Saviour.
So pleased to know how well Bro. Justin was loved by his family and brother monks. I was glad to have known Bro. Justin for a very few years and his last words spoken to me at oblate retreat last October: “has it been a year since you were here?” Life is short but eternal life is forever.
Reading this heartfelt piece days after the death and burial of Brother Justin. The experience sinks into my comprehension and heart…….a joyful sad gem to cherish.
On Apr 17, 2018 11:19 AM, “The Oblates of Mount Saviour Monastery” wrote:
> stuartjohntig posted: “”It is the silence of eternity that unites the > soul with God.” Sister Marie Aimee de Jesus The air was chilled; winds > bent the branches of the trees carrying the low hanging clouds across a > grey sky as his Brother Monks bore Brother Justin along the pa” >
I just found out today that Justin had passed. I was scheduled to visit him on Monday, June 4th. I sent him a few emails and did not give any responses back…I’ve never known anyone like him. He was a light. Life won’t be the same without him.