July 8, 2007

What God Is

Yesterday I attended the long-delayed funeral for Brother Justus Van Houten SSF. Justus was a friar, a deacon, a tireless minister and advocate for those on the edge. The funeral was a powerfully moving liturgy in the best Franciscan sense -- simple and respectful. The burial of his ashes in the friary burial place was eloquent, as each of us there added a shovelful of soil to the small place where his ashes were poured moments before.

Brother Derek Ford SSF preached a moving homily about how some people, such as Brother Justus, will continue speaking long after they are dead. He touched so many lives. This vision of the unstoppable utterance of praise reminded me of a musical meditation I wrote years ago, and which I share with you here. The choir sings over and over a simple phrase, which recurs on different notes each time it is sung, but which is a constant message that is my poor effort musically to envision heaven: "What God is I know not but that God is Love I know."

Brother Justus, this one's for you.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

MP3 File


June Butler said...

Tobias, it sounds like a beautiful service. I love the simple arrangement shown in the photo. Your musical composition is a fitting tribute.

"What God is I know not but that God is love I know."

Unknown said...

Our paths briefly overlapped in San Francisco a few years ago, and I wish I had gotten to know Br. Justus better. He was a wonderful man and a loving Christian. . . not the most conventional one, though, but neither was St. Francis.