We had a funeral recently for an older Dominican who died, Fr. Clement. The Provincial (the elected head of the whole province) and friars from all over the province came for the funeral, over twenty! The priory was packed! It began with the formal reception of the body; we were all assembled in our Cappas (formal black capes, which we wore the whole weekend), and chanted the Office for his soul. After that we left the body in the church for an all night vigil. The next morning we had the Mass, at which some of us novices served, but most of us chanted for it. I served, but the other brothers chanted the “In paradisium” (look it up), a prayer asking the angels to come and guide up Fr. Clement’s soul to heaven.
After the funeral all of us drove 3 hours northeast to St. Joseph, where many of the older friars had their novitiate. My van was mostly novices, except for Fr. T. Fr. T, a senior friar. Father knew Fr. Clem well; we didn’t dare ask much about their friendship, as he was upset. But not upset like most people. I think he was mourning the way religious do, he was sad that his friend has gone, but he knew he had to be joyful as Clem was now in heaven! He didn’t want to be joyful; he wanted to be sad. On that drive I could sense in him a tension between his humanity and the ever-emerging divinity that God was cultivating him. Pray for him. After we laid Fr. Clem’s body to rest we went up to the bell tower of the church and found that all the Dominican novices had scratched their names up there; generations of would be friars inscribed on the wall. I joined them on that wall, “Br. Gabriel ‘14”
After the burial we all drove home. We said goodbye to the other friars who lived elsewhere in the province, and piled up into our vans and drove back. Not long into the drive almost all the novices fell asleep, Fr. T stayed awake, he was silent, but completely awake.