Sunset / Sunrise for another friend

WNC Great Smoky Mountains memorial hospital

Taken Monday, 4 July, 2016, while turning from the sunset to the coming sunrise. This is just outside of Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC.

I put on well over 500 miles in the past couple of days, hospitals, burials and such. Happy to do it. And all these miles were a good opportunity to grieve. Before starting out on my travelling saga, news came in that a good friend and fellow Scripture Scholar, Doctor Martin L. Brenner, passed on survived by his lovely wife and nine children. His obituary was written by our common friend, Father Reto Nay, director of Gloria.Tv. Don Reto got his summa cum laude at the Biblicum writing about Ezekiel, who, I am convinced, wrote the passage I myself wrote about, Genesis 2:4-3:24. Marty, instead, went to the New Testament, and wrote about the Synoptic Gospels, the passage on the paralytic, comparing Matthew and Mark and noting what was happening in the book of Daniel. He and I thought much the same about the provenance and purpose of the two Gospels.

It’s somewhat imprecise to say that he converted, but that’s how we speak, isn’t it? He grew up in a Jewish family, became a son of the law, but had the veil lifted when, as it is said, he recognized that it was all true, salvation comes from the Jews, and the name of that saving Messiah is Jesus. He was for a long time interested in religious life but finally made the decision to be married. I wasn’t there for the wedding, but he at least had it planned, I know, to be celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica and witnessed by a common friend, Father James Swetnam, S.J. (a really cool Jesuit, by the way).

I have often cited Martin’s rather rambunctious style of academic discussions, argumentative, pushing, shoving (metaphorically), out to “kill the baby” as he frighteningly put it. Don’t get me wrong, Martin was wonderfully, tenderly pro-life in every way. He wanted myself and others to see if we could attack his ideas to try and find lacunae in his premises. I learned this from him. I’ve often used this method. I did use it for the years writing my thesis, really being obnoxious about it, making it a million times better. But I learned that not everyone is ready for this. You have to train them in. But once there, it is spectacularly thrilling.

Martin had a passion for the truth. No political correctness for him! My prayer is now that he will meet face to face with the Living Truth, Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.

P.S. Many friends have died this past year. They say you know you are getting older when all your friends start dying. Of course, Marty was 18 years older than myself, but I think those are the years that go by the fastest, are they not?


Filed under Jewish-Catholic dialogue

9 responses to “Sunset / Sunrise for another friend

  1. meshugunah

    So sorry for the your loss. Prayers said for your friend and his family.

  2. I offer my sympathy for the loss of your friend, Marty. I too have lost many friends this past year, four during the month of December, with two on Christmas day. I guess this is what my dad meant when he said he had more friends in eternity than on earth. My mom used to say this is why it is important to make young friends. When we get to feeling sad we need to remind ourselves our departed loved ones are resting with the Lord.

  3. Monica Harris

    ChurchMilitantTV (formerly Real Catholic) has a 4 part video series Dr Brenner gave about the evils of contraception, it is excellent. Prayers for him and his family.

  4. litteralis

    It is true, Father. I am 79, and it is gone with the wind.
    May Almighty God bless you, and keep you safe and well. May He have mercy upon the soul of Dr. Brenner.
    Waynesville, North Carolina

  5. James Anderson

    I will add him and his family to my prayer list and the one at my parish church. May he rest in the bosom of Christ.

  6. sanfelipe007

    My condolences as well as prayers, Father.

    “I guess this is what my dad meant when he said he had more friends in eternity than on earth.”

    What a great sentiment. I, too lost a laved one (my sister) on this past Christmas day. I was much comforted when my older sister praclaimed “what a great day to enter Heaven!”

    I wonder if meeting Our Lord on His birthday is (forgive the clumsy thinking) anything like asking for a favor of Don Corleone on his daughter’s wedding day?

    I know, it is infinitely better.

  7. Liz

    I am sorry for the loss of him, Father. Prayers for his soul, family and for you.

  8. SognPlaci

    May Martin (as we non-Americans called him) rest in peace.

  9. David Nowaczewski

    So sorry to hear of your (and our) loss. I was lucky enough to take a Synoptics course with Dr. Brenner back in the late 90s. It transformed my faith life and for the first time the Holy Scriptures came alive to me as the voice the Living God. I’m indebted to Dr. Brenner immensely. I just happened to google his name this morning and discovered his recent passing. I will be sure to pray for him and his family and will be sure to have Holy Mass offered for the repose of his soul.


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