Tuesday, July 05, 2011

REST IN PEACE - Joseph Paul Trigilio (October 14, 1964 - July 5, 1997)

Today I buried a 36 year old victim of cancer. He left behind a son, brothers and sisters and his father. Today is also the 14th anniversary of the death of my younger brother, Joe, who was killed by an underage drunk driver. Inept prosecution (district attorney) and a criminal friendly judge (who threw out impeccable blood alcohol tests on a miniscule clerical technicality) plus an expensive Pittsburgh defense lawyer resulted in the 'accused' getting off free and clear. Not only was involuntary manslaughter dismissed but even DUI so the perp never even lost driving privileges. Drive away from a gas station without paying and you lose your driver's license. Drive recklessly and at more than three times the legal limit of intoxication and end up taking an innocent life; you lose nothing. No fine. No time in jail. Nice judicial system we have.  Nevertheless, I would never replace it for inferior systems of adjudication. 

It has been a rough several weeks (my mom has been in and out of the hospital getting blood transfusions and many tests) and then the reality of today. I often think about that poignant scene in John's Gospel where Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.  All too often when you are a priest, deacon or religious, people expect you to be very Stoic or like a Vulcan and show no emotions when someone very close to you dies or when you encounter very disappointing if not devastating news. Discouragement is not a denial of faith. Depression can lead to an erosion of hope, however. But discouragement at intense levels robs you of energy, zeal and enthusiasm. Mourning the death of a friend or family member is a normal part of life. Belief in the resurrection and in the immortality of the human soul does not prevent tears, however, nor should they. If Jesus wept, so can we.  Rather than trying to get the mournful to deny their feelings or worse yet, feel guilty about them, how about just BEING THERE for them?  At both funerals (my brother Michael in 1992 and my brother Joe in 1997) some well intentioned people came up to my mom and dad and said STUPID things like: "God closes one door and opens another" and "you must be relieved". No matter how long, how painful someone's death, whether a 26 year old dying from Muscular Dystrophy or a 33 year old being killed by an underage drunk driver or a 70 year old father dying from leukemia, any and all deaths are sad. Death is a punishment for sin which we inherit from Adam and Eve via Original Sin. Jesus died for our sins and redeemed us. Nevertheless, as human beings, we who survive our loved ones FEEL the sting of death, as we should. If losing a loved one is not painful, then how can we long for our hopeful reunion? If death is not painful, than how can we cherish the precious and limited moments of life on earth?

I try my utmose best at funerals to convey and explain Christian hope in the resurrection and in life after death but I also affirm the obvious that death hurts those left behind. Families usually appreciate real and authentic empathy while at the same time giving them something to HOPE for and hope in.

Still in urgent need of prayers for a private intention that is becoming more dire each day. Deo Gratias for priestly fraternity (like the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) and for support from wonderful devout laity.



Anonymous said...

Dear Fr.Trigilio
Greetings and peace to you.
Just to say that we will pray for you and your dear mother and family at this time.

Laudetur Iesus Christus

paul and mary brennan

mdoneil said...

Father, you, your family and your intentions remain in my prayers.

DominiSumus said...

You have my prayers and my compassion. After 17 years of working on the staff of several parishes I have seen exactly what you describe many times. It is unfair and unrealistic and part of the "our priest is a robot from the planet priestland" mentality that I have encountered countless times.

Anonymous said...

Fr Trigillio-
Thanks for your thoughtful,honest and grounded words on bereavement.
Going through it myself.
My prayers are with you.
Thanks for your work.

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Father.

Kathy said...

Prayers for you, Father. I only saw this much later than you posted. I hope things are better for you now.

Christine said...

Prayers your way, Father. And so sorry to hear about the aftermath of your brother's death. As an attorney, that judicial ineptitude and corruption are infuriating. It must have taken tremendous fortitude to remain calm and to forgive in the face of that.

Thank you for your insight.

Anonymous said...

Father, you have every right to be sad and cry your eyes out if you want! Even be a bit angry at injustice and unfairness of life. I know there is nothing that I can say to you that you probably haven't said to others as you comfort them, but somehow knowing others are praying for your healing, for your continued faith, for your acceptance of God's grace on all our pain, is a tiny bit of comfort. The biggest comfort to me, is like you said, knowing you will be with them again, in God's loving arms, is the hope and faith that keeps us sane. I can only imagine the Atheist thinking of the worm... and pity him. Peace to you. Jo

Kelly said...

How right you are, Father. I often think that we the laity expect our priests to be super human. We find that talking and having meals, etc. with our priests when possible, helps us yo get to know them on a human level, and while we greatly respect them as Christ-bearers, we also relate to, and empathize with them as people.
God Bless you Father, and prayers during this very rough time.


Anonymous said...

Father, please rest assured of prayers for you and your family.
Also for Father Levis.

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