A Somewhat Trivial Point of Personal Priviledge

It slid by in the wake of post mortem blues, the onrush of art and theological ruminations not attended to and general exhaustion following the death of my mother.  Yesterday was my 44th anniversary as a priest.  Kind of a trivial thing weighted against the major shifts in life.

Trivial, by the way, is not necessarily bad. It's just, well, an introductory sort of thing...from the trivium, the introductory courses in a medieval university.

The Rt. Rev. Francisco Reus-Froylan ordained me as a priest in a service that was all in Spanish, save the questions and prayers of ordination itself, the bishop wanting to be sure I got the full weight of what was being asked and prayed. I got it, although  I sometimes wonder if I have ever gotten beyond the Trivium stage.  There is such a distance between becoming just being a priest and becoming a wise priest (sigh.)  Just about the time I feel I'm catching on to the whole thing I get another wake-up call.

Just this last Saturday I presided at the burial office for my mother, Anne. The whole family was there and we remembered Anne, her husband Ed, our father, and all the years of creative and full life she had. The prayers were hallowed by years of use, and in Anne's case by her life long search for a fullness of meaning in prayer and the celebration of little things. There was noting trivial in Anne's world, everything was rich with meaning and possibility.

The wake-up call for me was a renewed sense of what the priesthood of all believers is about. Anne was a priest of God, more blessed in that priesthood because not ordained and set apart by the church. Her priesthood was to make sacrament at all times and in all places, the outward and visible sign of such sacramental action was her art. The inward and spiritual grace was her courage.  

That wake-up call was accompanied by another: I have presided at many funerals, including my father's. But professional and personal memory fades and I forgot just how much the grieving hurts. I feel deeply grateful to have been able to preside at this service, but I am washed out by the experience. Anne's was a good death, a long life brought to a simple and good ending, with out much baggage left over. Still, I feel, well, lost.

So I am still in the trivium...still just underway, learning beginning mind.  It takes a long time to get there, and forty-four years is not too long for the wind up for the pitch.


  1. I wouldn't call 44 years ordained 'trivial', and certainly not Trivia Anglicana. That is something to write about :)

    Lagging 19 years Behind

  2. I agree. Let's avoid promiscuous use of the word 'trivial' -- either about ones vocation or about a covenant whose intentions are not trivial (if that were so, it would be ignored).


  3. Congratulations my friend!

  4. Congrats! 44 years is an accomplishment. Staying a priest without strangling bishop that long is a basis for sainthood!


  5. With thanks, Mark, for your sacerdotal gifts, and prayers for their continued blessings among us...

  6. Mark, what a contrast of emotions on this significant occasion. It is rather breathtaking.

    I understand your referring to your ordination anniversary as 'trivial.' Anyone who takes himself and the world seriously enough would call such an event 'trivial' while at the same time thanking God immensely for it.

    I would simply say that our church and our world is a better place for that event 44 years ago. And your getting to preside at your mother's funeral is bittersweet icing on the cake.

  7. Of course it's trivial - as trivial as sunrise and sunset, as trivial as the change of tides. It is your nature, and so by taking it, you form the world. So trivial. :)

  8. My breath is taken away by this post. If we were required to wear special undergarments as part of our religious garb, yours, dear man, as a sign of the Holy Spirit, would be bright red.

    God bless you in bearing this monumental grief so gracefully. God bless you in bearing ordination so thoughtfully.

    God bless you in this time.

  9. May the angels bring her to Paradise,

    My father just passed away and the grief is tremendous not in its weight but its gnawingness. He was a simple and good man, who loved me despite my complexity.
    I know enough that grief is something you go through rather than go around. May it be a remindful campanion rather than too sorrowful a burden.

  10. Congratulations, Mark. There is nothing so humbling - and emotionally and physically draining and exhausting - as to preside at the funeral of one's parents.

    Rest well knowing that Anne is at rest. I have been chanting her into heaven and you into solace with some of the Buddhist monks at my neighborhood Wat here in Thailand.

    May your faith be your consolation.


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