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.


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