I’m standing outside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Michael Novak’s funeral took place just hours ago in the Crypt Church, where I’d estimate some 400 or so came together to recognize death and to pray for a man they knew who has left the stage.

The funeral was also occasion to remember Fr. Richard Novak, Michael’s brother. I worked on a manuscript with Michael a few years ago, telling the story of Fr. Richard’s life through his letters. (We never found a publisher, but I hold out hope that the book will see life in some form in time.) Fr. Richard was killed in January 1964 in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) during sectarian conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims. Fr. Richard’s body was never recovered, but his chalice made it back to the states. That chalice was used during Michael’s funeral mass today.

In tribute to them both, I’m sharing some of Fr. Richard’s poetry:

I Am No Lazy Lover
Fr. Richard Novak, C.S.C.
1962

I am no lazy lover
With sweeping grandeurs
of small talk. Words, you discover,
are passing; love endures.

Proffered is no measured length
of the potential soul.
Rather, influence of strength,
corner-stone, cemented whole.

The senses know the form
and smile and eyes
of love, but the lover’s norm
is to pierce through this disguise

to spirit which is all things
does love intensify
to ripened being. Each day that sings
our love is more July.

Sand below and stars above
give instancy of me.
Mine is no lazy love;
come taste my love and see.