I'm typing this posting as Steve and I prepare to leave for the airport. We're heading off today on a Christmas trip to Italy, which became possible for us when we discovered a kind of magic called "frequent flyer miles" that waved away the price of airfare. We've also found additional magic called convent guesthouses at several of the places we'll visit as we travel--reasonably priced lodging with meals included.
Neither of us has ever been to Italy, and so we're looking forward to a pilgrimage that will include Assisi and Rome (for Christmas), as well as a little bit of time in Bolzano, where Steve has family roots going back to the Austrian period, and in Florence. I especially want to make a pilgrimage to Assisi at this Franciscan moment in the life of the Catholic church, and to pray there in a particular way for the church to begin treating gay people with more dignity, humanity, and compassion.
I am not confident we'll have access to the internet as we travel, and so I wanted to post a message to explain why I'm away from the blog, if I fall silent. If I'm not able to post until our return, I wish all of you a peaceful and blessed holiday season and a happy 2014.
P.S. Please don't miss Frank Bruni's column "The Catholics Still in Exile" in today's New York Times. It's about the continued cruel and inhumane treatment of gay employees of Catholic institutions--people like Michael Griffin of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Tippi McCullough of Little Rock, Arkansas. Despite what Pope Francis is said by the media to stand for, Catholic institutions in the U.S. continue to treat gay employees as second-class citizens: we have miles to go before we can sleep, when it comes to living the gospel as an institution in our approach to those God makes gay.
The graphic is a detail from a Madonna and Child of Bartolomeo Vivarini in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.