…Speaking of the old Italianos…herein lies their secret. “Più che sufficiente – in English, It’s More than Enough” Bene, Bene!!!
When i was little, i knew my father as “the taxman!” With all of the terrible things everyone said about the Taxman, including the Beatles and even the priests in church (about Matthew), i did not understand why Dad was so popular, so loved? One of the things i learned with the passing of time, especially when it came time to pay my own, was that Harold Robinson was the expert at saving people money, and so from February to April he was out helping friends and making new ones. And much of it was on a barter system, like the dentist taking care of eight kids’ teeth for free. Men would come to fix things around the house, and all kinds of food would come in, like perfetto sauces for my dad’s beloved spaghetti.
The thing is, we would often tag along with the taxman. People would shower us with their finest cakes and cookies and hot chocolate on those cold winter evenings, while dad was in the other room doing his deed.
My favorite such trip, however, came many years later, when i was visiting home as a newly ordained priest. My dad asked me to tag along with him, but this time he had other intentions. It was an old, old Italian fellow, who still spoke Italian and who would go nuts to have his house blessed while his taxes were being done. (Dad knew i spoke enough Italian.) And so my dad went off to the man’s office, while he and i toured every room with my holy water. In half-Italian/half-English he told me his whole story from the minute his boat arrived. He had built the whole house, a masterpiece. But it was the basement! The basement held the treasure. That is where he made his wine.
After i blessed the whole sacred spot, and bottle after bottle, he took me to the kitchen and sat me down at the table he had made, on the chair he had made. He opened a bottle of vino he had made and reached into the oven for a freshly baked (by him) pane (bread). He took my hand for a long time and ran it back and forth over the table. Such tears of pride were in his eyes, as he thanked me and my father for all that we had done. But most importantly, MOST IMPORTANTLY, he wanted me to know that this table and this wine and this loaf of bread were “più che sufficiente,” he said it so many times. These simple things were what it’s all about; they were “more than enough” for him.
What an absolute treasure, a “pearl of great price” i found that day in that humble sanctuary!! When a man is so content with so little, there is no “Dark Side” that could ever rob his peace of mind. And that encounter was far more holy and life-influencing than just about anything i ever experienced in church.
(Not to mention the extra bottles and extra loaves he gave me to bring home to the friars!)