Friday, May 8, 2020

My latest column: “Seek the Things That are Above”

I was with my parents on a sojourn in Italy when the electricity was cut off to the entire “boot” of the Italian peninsula overnight and into the morning hours of September 29, 2003. The blackout was allegedly in retaliation by Switzerland for unpaid Italian bills.
We were staying in Orvieto and I woke up to find with chagrin there was no coffee available. You see, the Italian coffee bars use electricity while the homes have gas stoves. One knows these things when one has spent time living in Italy as I did. I maintained an apartment on the coast near Cuma while serving as an active duty Navy chaplain in Naples.

It was a Sunday morning and, having time to fast before Mass if I moved with alacrity, I decided to beg. My somewhat bemused parents followed me as I entered into a bit of street theater. I processed through the town and, as windows opened and a few people emerged, I asked each of them for a cup of coffee. All had excuses as to why it was not possible. I was without luck.
I had been hoping the Lord’s lesson on persistence would apply in this case. Alas. He does ask us to pray without ceasing, but a cup of coffee during a power blackout is not necessarily one of those things guaranteed to us. At least not in this case.
Later, in the sacristy of the magnificent Duomo, as I stood vested and waiting for the Mass to begin with the monsignor celebrant, the lights came back on. 
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