Requiescat in Pace Thomas Bertonneau

I bear the sad news that longtime Orthosphere author Thomas Bertonneau died last night in his sleep.   He had been suffering from a wasting disease and knew that death was near at hand, but he resolved to accept his end with a manly mix of Stoical reserve and Christian insouciance.  As Tom wrote to me in the first part of June,

“As soon as the neurologist made the diagnosis, I instructed her that I wanted to know nothing – absolutely nothing – about the details of the disease’s progress or about the timeline of my foreshortened future. I resolved to live – as happily as possible – one day at a time.”

For those who understood the happy warrior that Tom was, these words will come as no surprise.  He had the faith and the philosophy to know that a man should not worry about the hour that Death will knock at his door, but should rather worry about the man who must open that door and allow Death to enter in.

Please say a prayer for Tom’s dear, departed soul.  We will post a longer tribute to his life and work sometime soon.  I’ve pasted below a poem that seems to suit the circumstances.  It is by the Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and it describes the way that men pass through our lives on their way to the life where there is no more passing through.  The second stanza describes men whose bright minds rain rich beams down on those they pass.  It would seem to have been written with Thomas Bertonneau in mind, since he has been for all of us an intrepid lantern-bearer in this dark and dolorous world.

The Lantern out of Doors
(1877)

Sometimes a lantern moves along the night,
That interests our eyes. And who goes there?
I think; where from and bound, I wonder, where,
With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?

Men go by me whom either beauty bright
In mold or mind or what not else makes rare:
They rain against our much-thick and marsh air
Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.

Death or distance soon consumes them: wind
What most I may eye after, be in at the end
I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.

Christ minds: Christ’s interest, what to avow or amend
There, éyes them, heart wánts, care haúnts, foot fóllows kínd,
Their ránsom, théir rescue, ánd first, fást, last friénd.

38 thoughts on “Requiescat in Pace Thomas Bertonneau

  1. Oh, no…. This is the saddest news. I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your friend. I will greatly miss Professor Bertonneau’s perspective and writing. From above ” I resolved to live – as happily as possible – one day at a time.” ” What remarkable words, and a maxim for us all.

    May he already be in his happy home with Jesus and the saints. May our Father God wrap all his family and friends and those who love him in perfect assurance of being reunited in that Wonderful Day.

  2. What we pray is Heaven’s gain, is our aching loss; he
    “whom beauty bright
    In mind makes rare”.

    How can the passing of one known only from his writing here bring such a sadness?

    God bless and receive you, Tom. R.I.P.

  3. It was a blessing to have Tom with us for a time. May he rest in peace.

    Now he will miss the outrages that the world seems to be preparing for us here below in the church militant, for he has joined the church triumphant in Heaven.

    • I had the same thought. Similarly, I have often wondered whether Auster’s death in March 2013 was an act of mercy . . . so that he was spared having to witness Francis’ pontificate.

  4. Sad news — at least for us. I’ll miss his articles, insights, and friendly demeanor. He was a gentleman. May his memory be eternal!

    I also read that Angelo Codevilla died today. It’s the inevitable end for us all. I just wish that some would stay around much longer (and others, well, let the Lord’s will be done).

    May his family and close friends find comfort and peace.

  5. Bless Tom, my brother, my dear mentor and my light of kindness in a very confusing world. I will love him daily and treasure every sweet time I spent with him. Goodnight dear brother. Love your sister, Denise

  6. What a loss!
    Just two weeks ago I searched through his entire catalogue here, reading through at least two dozen gems, and looking forward, looking forward, to his next piece.
    Never again.

  7. This is very very sad news for me. Doubly so coming so close to the anniversary of Zippys passing. Dr. Bertonneau meant very much to me, and I treasured his writings. I will pray for his soul, as I can’t do much more at this time. I’m very sad. Thank you for letting us know, Kristor.

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  10. May the Lord have mercy on Tom. I only knew him through his writings and comments here, but I am very grateful for the education he provided me.

  11. Jonathan Chaves May his memory be eternal! Tom was one of the very few, true warriors in today’s Academia fighting for what is good, true, and beautiful in literature. As his fellow academic I admired his work and drew inspiration from it. As his friend I mourn his passing but know he reposes with the Lord.

  12. A terrible loss for us now, a great gain for eternal Heaven. His work has done honour to Truth, Beauty and the Good, and given a little more proof that, despite his many blunders, Man is worthy of these.
    RIP Tom

  13. Indeed sad news, and a great loss for all of us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gained richly from his posts over the years. He will be sorely missed. Requiescat in pace.

  14. Rest in peace, my dear friend. Knowing you was a singular honor. You fought valiantly for things worth fighting for: truth, beauty, integrity. I’ll hold you forever in my heart.

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  16. Well, this is a great loss for the Orthosphere, narrowly or broadly defined. Tom didn’t write blog posts for us; he wrote publishable essays, many quite fascinating. He was one of the very few in his profession to practice its distinct calling to work for the preservation of the best of our inherited culture (and, in Tom’s case, the proper appreciation of some of its fun genre fiction too). I didn’t know him personally, but something of his personality came through in his writing.

  17. I read this post late last night when I got home from work and football practice. I did not have the words then, nor do I have them now, to express what a great loss Tom’s death is to me! We jostled back and forth for several years on whether I should call him by his given name, or show him due respect, referring to him as Dr. Bertonneau. I finally gave in to Tom’s insistence that I refer to him by his given name, but nevertheless did not feel very comfortable with that arrangement, always knowing I was his student, he my teacher.

    Nevertheless, dear Tom, you will be missed by yours truly more than you could perhaps have imagined. Our email exchanges from time to time over the last several years were always instuctive on my end. And I always wanted to find a way to publicly thank you as well for sending me your book on your dime!

    Rest in Peace, dear Tom!

  18. Jonathan Chaves

    In memoriam Tom Bertonneau

    So much decays and so much vanishes!
    No inexorable force proclaims this fate.
    One who was a scholar and a mate
    Mortality from prophets’ ranks now banishes:

    Tom knew that “Truth is Out There;” with him gone
    The troops of witnesses are badly thinned.
    The wind of change blows chill; he reaps the wind,
    A man who saw and thought, no epigone.

    Cultivation? Dignity? Transcendence?
    Mocked and hated by les clercs today!
    Failing to discern their sure dependence

    On that which now has swept our Tom away.
    But they and he from crossroads having started,
    They enter darkness, he the light, once parted.

  19. I met Tom some years ago (on line). He showed me new ways to approach things, both intellectually and spiritually. Offered many helpful suggestions. I owe him a lot for that.

  20. Tom–who insisted on the personal greeting–blessed my life with his writings for many years. I have all of his online essays, from Orthosphere, The Brussels Journal, the Pope Center, etc., photocopied and bound, constituting a veritable library of wide and deep learning and wisdom. We corresponded only a few times, by post, and he had hoped to be able to come to Richmond to speak to a fellowship of serious readers on the work of Rene Girard. I am stunned by the post. All of which is to say that one of the great souls of our time has gone on to the realm where the spirits of the just are made perfect in Jesus the Christ, and there is no one quite like him, so gifted, now among us.

  21. When reading Prof. Bertonneau’s essays, I often thought how much different, likely much better, my life would’ve been if only he’d been my professor instead of certain deconstructionists. I wish I’d told him that.

  22. Pingback: Professor Thomas F. Bertonneau, Requiescant in Pace - Sydney Trads

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