Homily in Remembrance of Fr. Jude Burbach, OSB.  A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough. - Benjamin Franklin
Abbot Barnabas Senecal delivered a homily in remembrance of Fr. Jude Burbach.  The text from the homily is below.  See Father Jude's obituary here.
Fr. Jude                             BurbachWe know the story from 1 Kings, how the prophet Elijah fled to a cave, protecting himself from the anger of the people. He heard a voice ask why he had come to the cave. “Out of fear, for I have been zealous for the Lord.” He remained in the cave, seeking the Lord. There was an earthquake and then a strong wind, and then a fire. The Lord was not in any of these forces. Finally a small breeze passed by. He wrapped his face in his mantle, perhaps fearful that this was the presence of the Lord. And it was. And he listened.

Father Jude was familiar with the Benedictine spirit, early in his life. Three in his extended family had become monks at Conception Abbey, Fathers Maur, Cyril and Bernard. Each had done as Elijah had done, retreated to a quiet, safe place, to form their lives for service to others. Each wrapped his face with his monastic hood, being humble before the Lord.

My uncle, Father Lucien Senecal, a monk of St. Benedict’s Abbey, gave a senior high school retreat in Hartington, Nebraska, in 1945, and made a summer recruitment trip to this community. Father Jude said these contacts influenced him to make the choice to go to our college in the fall of 1945 rather than to Creighton where he thought he was going. Father Jude said he remembered Father Lucien driving up to their home in a black Buick coupe, all shined up. That must have seemed promising to a young man.

However, Father Jude came to our monastery, eager to learn and to serve, to recognize Benedictine life as a way of retiring to a cave yet remaining very much in contact with others, standing humbly near the Lord. Being the gentle breeze and quiet voice. Seeking to be the loving shepherd Christ had modeled.

Father Jude was a community-minded man. He did not seek the grand things but enjoyed and shared in the simpler things of life. He could master the difficult tasks, such as gaining a Master’s degree in Library Science and learning Portuguese in order to spend eight significant years with the people of Brazil. He paid attention to needs of individuals and of the group, be that the monastery, a parish or a school. He was particularly pleased to help the Onaga parishioners build an addition to their church.

I have many handwritten notes that Father Jude wrote to me in my years as abbot. Almost every note had these two words, “Thank you.”

“Thank you for the homily you gave for Fr. Bernard Gervais. I miss him as I was next to him in choir for a year or two.”

“You assigned me to Onaga along with Lillis and Blaine. It was a challenge but I found it an opportunity for growth. The addition to St. Vincent church in Onaga will be ten years old in December.”

“My vacation trip to Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin SD was educational and enjoyable. I stayed two nights. Eastern SD is beautiful with many glaciated lakes. I visited relatives, some of whom are in care homes or assisted living.”

“Thank you for the Home Pages. With my diminished hearing the Home Pages help me know things I would not be aware of. Happy Feast Day.”

“I was assistant of Fr. Anthony at 2nd and division before my promotion to be pastor of Purcell so that Fr. Otho could be a missionary to Brazil.”

Father Jude was one whose life reflected the discovery that Elijah had, that God is present in the gentle breeze, the small wind of every day life, appreciated and valued.

He took pride in his various apostolic assignments, and people came to know God through Father Jude’s gentle voice and gentle manner. They didn’t sense him as a powerful preacher, but a man of wisdom and advice. They didn’t sense him to be a man who sought to correct them, but one who would love them in their strength and in their weakness. He wasn’t one who had all the answers, but he would help them find those answers (that made him a good librarian).

A man of books he was. Not six weeks ago he came to my office with a paperback book entitled, “Light on Aging and Dying,” By Helen Nearing. He had picked it up at a book sale, and thought I might like to look it over, or have others look at it.

These were three of the items marked in pencil, perhaps by Father Jude: “A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.” Benjamin Franklin

“No man need fear death, because the ultimate tragedy of life is not death. The ultimate tragedy of life is not having lived fully when one is alive.” Norman Cousins.

“I have no intention of dying as long as I can do things. And if I do things there is no need to die. So I will live a long time.” Albert Schweitzer

St. Benedict wanted monks to be humble. Father Jude was humble. He served where he was asked to serve. He shared his need for community by living well and honestly. He chose to be concerned about others more than about himself. He was a celebrant of Sacrament, a celebrant of life and a celebrant of contentment. May each of us join him in such celebration!.
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