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Punctuation matters

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

May 25, 2022

Having spent the vast majority of my adult life in writing careers, I have a habit of “nerding out,” as I say, over discussions about grammar, punctuation and diction.

Most people who have spent time with me know this about me, so it seemed natural when Father Bryan D. Stitt brought up a punctuation-related topic in a conversation after the ordination of Father Leagon Carlin.

“I missed a comma in the program that should’ve been a period,” he said.

The sentence he referenced was at the conclusion of a description of the prayer of ordination.

The text should’ve read, “This man is now a priest.” It should’ve had a period at the end of the sentence. Instead, it read, “This man is now a priest,” with a comma at the end.

While acknowledging the error, Father Stitt noted that he liked the accidental comma ending.

“This man is now a priest, but it’s not the end,” Father Stitt noted.

“It’s kind of like that trend of people getting tattoos of semicolons,” I said.

Father Stitt gave me a look that indicated he was not familiar with semicolon tattoos.

“For a while, it was a trend for people who recovered from severe depression or addiction to get semicolon tattoos,” I explained. “A semicolon is a place in a sentence where you could logically have an ending, but by using a semicolon, the author chooses to continue the sentence; the author chooses to keep going. People who overcome depression or addiction know those things didn’t end their stories. They kept going.”

Life is full of endings. School ends with graduation. Jobs end with moves or retirement. Relationships end. Those endings can be painful. They often include at least some sadness and grieving.

Thankfully, God often turns those endings into new beginnings, and He often use endings – even the sad ones – for His glory and to bring us closer to Him.

For Father Leagon, this ordination is an end to his time as a student, deacon and seminarian, but it’s the beginning of his new life and ministry. For those with semicolon tattoos, God helped them find new life after carrying heavy crosses and enduring hardships.

Our God is a God of new life, new beginnings and renewal regardless of what punctuation we use when describing it.

There’s no question mark about it.

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