No One Shall Sleep

From the Associate Pastor

My introduction to the wonderful world of opera was actually through a sports event. At the conclusion of the 1994 World Cup, a concert was held at the Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles called “The Three Tenors.” The whole concert was spectacular, but I was drawn to one very moving piece sung by Luciano Pavarotti from the opera “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini: “Nessun Dorma.”

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle che tremano d’amore,
e di speranza!

None shall sleep! None shall sleep!
Not even you, oh Princess, in your cold bedroom,
watching the stars that tremble with love, and with hope!

The character who sings this song in the opera, Calaf, tries to win the heart of Princess Turandot, who is known as cruel and emotionally cold. Calaf tells her that if she can guess his name right by dawn, she can do whatever she wants with him. Otherwise, she will have to marry him. The princess then orders all her subjects not to sleep until someone can find the name of this mysterious man.

In the second reading this Sunday, St. Paul also urges the Thessalonians not to sleep, but to stay alert and sober. At this time, Paul believes that the parousia, Christ’s return in glory at the end of time, is imminent. He uses the expression “day of the Lord” that is used in the Old Testament to refer to God’s final victorious battle against his wicked foes. Faced with such a phenomenal event, we are called to be ready and vigilant. The charge to be vigilant calls to mind the cardinal virtue of fortitude, that is, firmness during trials and persecutions.

With elections behind us, I was really hoping that we would be on a path of healing and uniting our country after a bitter and tumultuous partisan battle. Sadly, it seems like our country is as divided as ever, if not more so. Policiantis continue to fan our emotions and pit us against one another to help them cling to power. If we thought we could now sleep in peace, unfortunately, we now know that we have no choice but to be sober and alert.

Yet we are not without another great virtue: hope. Just as the Thessalonians were hoping for Christ’s victorious coming, we too have the hope of God’s victorious ordering of the world, where true justice and true peace will prevail. At the end of the song, Calas too sings of his assurance that he will win the princess’s heart.

Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle!
All’alba, vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!
(Vanish, o night! Fade, you stars! Fade, you stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!)

Peace, Fr. Sam