19 October 2009

An uncustomary stop at customs

Before I left for my pilgrimage in honor of Saint Joseph Damien de Veuster, I mentioned to a parishioner (it somehow came up in conversation) that I would probably be looking for a new altar cross for the parish here in Virden. The one in use at the time was small and thin and did not seem to blend well with the overall look of the church. To my surprise - and delight - the parishioner offered to purchase whatever cross I chose.

Wandering through the liturgical shops in the Eternal City, I was surprised to see how few of them seemed to sell crucifixes to place on the altar. I did find one, though, that I liked and purchased.

Before leaving the store with it, it was wrapped first in bubble wrap and then in brown paper.

When it came time to return to the United States, I had to carry the cross onto the plane, both because it would not fit in my suitcase and because I would be receiving a Value Added Tax (VAT) credit and the office might want to see it.

When I arrived in Chicago and finally made my way to the customs counter, I placed the wrapped cross on the counter and produced my passport for the officer. He asked, "What is that?"

"A cross to place on an altar," I answered. "You probably don't see too many of these come through here."

He looked at me and said, "No, not too many," after which he stamped my passport and sent me on my way. It might have been my fastest time through customs yet.

At any rate, the cross was on the altar for the weekend Masses and the parishioners seem to be quite pleased with it:

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