Monday, May 14, 2007
The Right Rev. Archimandrite Michael Trigg, Requiescat in Pace
On Saturday, 12 May, 6:30pm, our dear pastor emeritus, Fr. Michael Trigg, fell asleep in the Lord, after over thirty years of faithful service to the parish family of St. Michael Orthodox Church in Whittier, CA.
What was most impressive about him was not his Oxford degree in anthropology (having studied under the famed anthropologist E. Evans-Pritchard), but his humility. This was the one quality that he tried to find in people, the one he most valued. Humility, he taught, was near and dear to the heart of God, as Christ himself humbled himself to the point of dying the most cruel and humiliating death. Love and humility for him were the calling of all true Christians, as all are enjoined to take up their cross and follow Him who humbled himself and triumphed over death. The way to glory for him was in none other than the way of the cross.
He had a way of looking straight into your soul, forcing you to look at yourself honestly. Nothing escaped him in confession. He was the kind of confessor with whom you knew you were in good hands, like a good surgeon.
His gracious manner was always quite welcoming. His congenial manner and engaging personality could make you feel like you were the most important person int he world for him at that moment.
He was at his best in the celebration of the blessed mysteries. Every mass was special to him, because he knew that at every celebration he was bringing his parishoners into the kingdom of God, where "with angels and archangels, and with all the hosts of heaven, we laud and magnify" the Lord's name. This was his highest vocation, what he considered to be his greatest moment, for which he would sacrifice a thousand Oxford D.Phils, and his very life, to do: to bring his flock into the throne room of heaven.
A man of prayer, he had a great personal devotion to St. Benedict of Nursia, nourished by the Anglican Benedictine Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, England, where he received his seminary education. He imbibed from this stream deeply.
He, along with a few intrepid souls, founded the parish of St. Michael, Whittier, on 10 April, 1977, after they had broken with ECUSA because of its continuing fall into theological and disciplinary innovations (he often called it by its true name-heresy). He often told me that at that sermon on Easter day, he encouraged those few faithful souls that if they remained true to the apostolic faith, God would bless them beyond their wildest imaginings. The work he had begun bore fruit, with a harvest of souls that spans the globe. He brought this parish into the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in 1983, under the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America. When our new parish building was consecrated on September 9, 1990 by Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Saidna Philip said that when the history of Orthodoxy in North America is written, St. Michael's would be a shining light which historians could scarcely ignore.
The parish family of St. Michael's is saddened by the departure of our dear pastor, but I know that he is assured that the work he had begun will go on, inspired by his courage and vision.
The gates of heaven have opened up to him, and now he goes as angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers saints, martyrs, apostles, and the very Mother of God sing triumphantly: Axios! Dignus est! He is worthy!
For us, still living this side of heaven, we lament his passing as the end of an era. We can also rejoice, however, that his legacy will live on in the hearts of the faithful at St. Michael's, as we carry on his vision of a Western Orthodox parish intent on leavening the culture and engaging it with the ancient and yet ever new message of the faith of the Apostles, martyrs and saints. One of our best warriors is now safely in the hands of his Lord and King. May we be worthy of this great legacy he has left us.
Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
Requiescas in pace, pastor bonus et fidelis!