Once again I am home between tours. Spring has finally sprung and I am trying to cram a months worth of house and yard work into a couple of weeks. Today the inside of the house was a mess, as I scrambled to finish weeding and planting before it started raining, I was taking a break and talking to my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger, Sarah Murdock on the phone when someone rang the doorbell. My kids, being faster than I am answered and Filippo walked in with a package (good peanut butter) a few seconds later. The door rang again not a minute later and I figured the delivery guy had forgotten something, so this I answered door myself. Seeing who rang, I told Sarah I needed to call her back in a few minutes, the reason why and hung up. When I called Sarah back 10 minutes later, she laughed and said that my excuse for getting off the phone was one of oddest she’d ever heard, and very Italian…are you curious yet?
It wasn’t the delivery guy at the door this time but our parish priest. I was mortified to have our dining room table covered with stuff since I was waxing the credenza. There was a pile of clean laundry on the sofa waiting to be ironed with all our socks and underwear on top. In short, the house was a mess although I prefer to think of it as lived in and loved.
Enter Don Luciano,..if I hadn’t been on tour last week and had been paying more attention, I would have realized it was time for la benedizione della casa. Every spring our parish priest goes door to door and blesses our homes. He comes in, says a quick prayer and goes on his way.
If you didn’t already know this, Italy is still a predominantly Catholic country although only about 25% of Italians attend weekly mass. Our household is fairly typical in terms of church attendance. My husband, Mauro was raised Catholic and goes to mass maybe once a month and it’s rarely on Sunday. Filippo has finished catechism and been confirmed and Emanuele is going through catechism. He usually goes to mass with Mauro, The decision to send out kids to catechism is partially cultural. It gives them a base from which to start, and when they are grown, they will decide what’s right for them in terms of church, community, and spirituality. Our hope is that they will have a decent moral compass to navigate life, some of that will come from the church (any church) but a lot of that also comes from the education we give them at home.
Don Luciano knows I am not Catholic and probably thinks I need all the help I can get. No, honestly, I told him years ago as he blessed our house, I need all the help I could get! This very pragmatic approach to life is quite Italian although Mauro would have cringed at my lack of finesse and candor had he been there. As an American, I am a lot more direct than most Italians I know.
I have never leaned the prayer that is recited during the blessing or when I attend mass for that matter, so I just say amen at the end. I am there spirit after all, even without the rituals.
Yesterday, I truly proved that I need all the help I can get. After Don Luciano left, I looked at the back of the card he left us, and realize that the prayer he said in our house, the same one he says every year, was actually written on the back of the card. I never turned it over, I simply looked at the picture, and the tiny cross it held. Talk about brilliance! You would think that after so many years here, I should have figured this out by now or actually remembered from one year to another. I’ll do better next year.
In the meantime, our house has been blessed for another year. The way I see it, our house has not just been blessed by the priest, but is continually blessed by the people who live here and those who come to visit. I feel pretty lucky to have the life I do in all its imperfection…