Levitating with St. Joseph of Cupertino

Tuesday mornings I've developed a ritual of sorts.
It has become my morning of prayer.

At 8:00 I tune in to the Catholic mass on TV and have it on in the background as I go about my business of eating breakfast, cleaning up the house a bit, making the beds, balancing the checkbook, paying the bills, teaching the dog to speak English, etc, etc. Occasionally I stop what I'm doing to listen to a Gospel reading, or to listen to the sermon for a few minutes, or to watch the goings on as the priest blesses the gifts (I've always enjoyed that part of the mass -- call me a sentimentalist for religious ritual, or perhaps I'm simply transfixed by the shiny chalice and the ringing of the bells).

But for the most part I'm a casual listener, though I always remember to stop and recite the Lord's Prayer at the appropriate moment in the mass ... for fear of a lightning bolt coming down from On High and through the roof to snuff out my meager existence! (God be praised!)

But today's mass really held my attention. You see, today is the feast day of St. Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th century priest who, it is said, had the ability to levitate when overcome by his spirituality. His levitations were termed "flights" of ecstasy and after his death he went on to be forever known as the "Flying Saint" ... only to be outdone by TV's "The Flying Nun."

St. Joseph became something of a celebrity in his time. In fact, once he not only levitated, but he actually moved across the land, down the road, onto a bus, and into town where he picked up lunch for himself and the other priests at the monastery. Of course, the Inquisition was not too happy with his "flights," considering his gift a bit gauche (and perhaps brought about by demonic forces). But he was eventually released by the Inquisitors and spent the remainder of his life in exile at a group home for other flying priests. He was allowed to levitate, so long as he stayed in the courtyard and carried a blinking red light at night to avoid collision with other flying priests.

The ability to levitate is something normally set aside for the holy members of society, like St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip of Neri, and Sally Field. Yet, with practice, anyone can learn to levitate. In fact, there are four steps to levitation, and if you follow these four simple steps you, too, will be soaring around town in no time.

1) Lose weight - You need to lose all those excess pounds that are keeping you tethered to planet earth. Think "under one hundred pounds." The lighter you are, the more your chances that a stiff wind will lift you off the ground.

2) Lose the jewelry - You'd be amazed how heavy jewelry can be. A 24-karat ring, a pair of earrings, a nose ring, an eyebrow ring, a tongue thingy (gross!), and an ankle bracelet might mean the difference between flying up in the wild blue yonder with the magnificent avian populations or scampering around down here on ground with the lowly squirrels. (Filthy, rotten rodents!)

3) Get religion - You need to believe mightily that the Almighty is up there, on His throne, causing the planets to rotate and the galaxies to revolve, and providing you with the Devine ability to levitate. Leaving $10 in the collection plate on Sunday wouldn't hurt either.

4) Find a cliff - When all else fails, find a cliff and jump off. Sure you'll be plummeting like a stone to your ultimate demise, but isn't falling simply levitation under extreme gravitation conditions. Besides, one hundred years from now you might be canonized like St. Dunstan ... who supposedly levitated briefly just before his death around 990 AD. (Of course, back in those days it's estimated that one in four people on earth levitated ... the other three simply took the subway to work.)

Speaking of the dead, St. Joseph of Cupertino died on this date - September 18 - in 1663. It is assumed that his last "flight" was his ascension into Heaven ... with a brief one-hour layover in Cleveland.

Jack Sheedy

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