Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flying on a Wing and a Prayer

As you know, I am rather aviophobic (there are two terms for fear of flying--aviophobia or aviatophobia; I just looked it up), but all I seem to do these days is FLY! The funny thing, though, is that instead of sitting there with my eyes squeezed shut during my least favorite part, take-off, I've become a bit obsessed with taking photos through the window. I think this one is kind of neat. This picture is actually one of a series that I snapped as we rumbled down the runway, took off, winged over the water, and finally ended up high above the clouds; I like it because you can so clearly see the waters of the Atlantic and the blessed terra firma, which I always hate to leave. You can also see the delicate-looking wing that is helping to keep an enormous hunk of metal weighed down with over a hundred souls and all their baggage (why does everyone have so much baggage?) airborne...AAAAGGGGHHHH!

This picture was taken on my most recent flight out to the Midwest with my husband to see our oldest son, who is home from deployment on leave, his wife and her family, and our darling month-old twin granddaughters. My son and his wife don't live out there, but it's where my daughter-in-law hails from. When she found out that she was expecting twins shortly after her husband left for his year-long deployment, she decided it would be best to go back home and stay with her folks through the birth of the babies and afterward, until he returns for good. It was a very wise decision, as she needed to go on bedrest for the last couple of months of her pregnancy, and she had that great support system around her. Her dear mother, an excellent cook, brought her meals on trays and did her laundry for her, allowing her to get the rest that was required to carry the babies to just shy of 37 weeks, which is considered full-term for twins.

My husband and I always enjoy the time we spend with my daughter-in-law's parents. Her mother is very sweet and makes anyone who walks in her door feel instantly at home. Her father is an intelligent, well-read, soft-spoken man, but he has a definite silly streak, too. He has introduced us to some interesting and amusing television shows, movies, and books. On this most recent trip, we watched a DVD called "The Reluctant Saint." This 1962 film, starring Maximillian Schell as St. Joseph of Cupertino and Ricardo Montalban as the Abbott who is reluctant to believe in his sanctity, is not only touching and well-made, but it is also quite humorous in spots as well. I found myself thinking that it would be impossible to make a movie like this, a beautiful tribute to a Catholic saint starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood, in this day and age. They just don't make them like this anymore.

If you've never seen "The Reluctant Saint," I highly reccommend it. It tells the story of Guiseppe, a 17th century Italian man who as a boy was thought to be the village idiot. He was slow, absent-minded, considered a nuisance and a dunce, and treated harshly. Even his own mother didn't know what to do with him and wished to be rid of him. Guiseppe became a servant at a Franciscan monastery, where he joyfully and humbly worked in the stables. He was not very bright and struggled with his studies; but when he was being examined for the priesthood, the examiner asked him about the only thing he knew well, so he passed and eventually became a real member of the Order and entered the priesthood. Guiseppe was very devout and had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His life was marked by ecstasies and levitations. Numerous times, people saw Guiseppe rise from the ground while praying or saying Mass. He became so famous for miracles that the friars had to keep him hidden away. I won't tell you any more about the life of this amazing saint, because I really want you to see this movie. Although it is a fictionalized version of his life, it will acquaint you with St. Jospeh of Cupertino, the "flying friar."

I ended up praying to this saint, about whom I knew nothing until I saw the movie, before our return flight--because guess what? St. Joseph of Cupertino is a patron of air travelers, aviators, and astronauts (that makes sense, I suppose, because he himself could fly). Now, I will always pray to St. Joseph of Cupertino for safe air travels, along with another powerful patron of aviators, St. Therese of Lisieux (to whom French pilots during WWI were very devoted); I'll pray to my Guardian Angel, the pilot's Guardian Angel...the list grows. But when it comes to flying, that's how I roll: on a wing and a prayer.

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