God and Mammon
There was a dilemma this week in Cervinara, a clash between the earthly and the spiritual, between God and Mammon.
This past Sunday marked the beginning of the “Festa” season with the feast of Corpus Domini or the Body of Christ. It includes a procession through the streets of the town with stops at little shrines set up along the way. Lovely linens are displayed in front of many homes, hanging off the balconies or makeshift clothes lines. Children precede the procession, carrying baskets of rose petals that are strewn in the street, to be walked on by the priest, those carrying his canopy, and all the faithful.
At the 11:30 mass, Don Giorgio Carbone spoke at length about the importance of this festa, because it celebrates the most important dogma of the church, that of the transubstantiation that turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. He announced that the Corpus Domini would be brought out of the church at 7:30 0r 7:45 pm, rather than the usual 6:45-7:00. Sighs of relief were heard from the congregation. Why?
This Sunday also marked the first game for Italy in the European Cup competition. Italian flags have been draped across the streets and hung from every balcony in anticipation. The game time? Six pm. This represented a major dilemma for everyone here. No one can ignore the Corpus Domini…..but neither could the game be ignored! What to do? Don Giorgio and the procession committee, not wanting to miss the game either, decided to delay the start of the procession until after the game was over. Fortunately, there was no overtime! The final whistle blew, and the church bells started ringing, calling the faithful to the piazza to await the start of the procession. Then cannon fire announced the exiting of the Corpus Domini from the church, the prayers started and the procession was on its way.
In a way it was nice having things unroll later than usual. There was a chill in the air as we wended our way through the narrow streets and alleys. Then, as the sun started to set behind our hills, the sky turned lovely shades of pink and violet and finally darkness fell. We accompanied the Corpus Domini back to the church, secure in our knowledge that just respect had been paid to both traditions, celebrating both the start of the festa season and Italy’s tie with Spain.
Sometimes it is possible to serve both God and Mammon, I guess!