Friday, December 23, 2011

To Bethlehem

The postulants have dispersed, each to their home town. Bethlehem is waiting, everywhere.

We left St. Michael Friary yesterday shortly after noon. The brothers cooked a big breakfast to celebrate our departure: french toast and fritatta, with fresh fruit. Three cheers for the fraternal gourmets! Joining us at the breakfast table was a family from Ecuador. They are relatives of the vicar guardian of our house and are staying in our friary for two weeks.

My brother Nicholas gave me a ride from the Babylon train station. In the early evening the nuclear family gathered at my sister Jennifer's home in East Northport to celebrate her birthday. It was a small but sweet affair with her husband and son, and two of Jen's friends. My nephew Jesse is almost two years old but looks like a four-year-old. He is picking up language and every material object within his reach. His personality was beaming yesterday. I presented my sister a portable New Testament in The Message translation by Eugene Peterson. It will be, for her, like feeding on breast milk before she moves on to solid food.

This morning I celebrated Eucharist with Nicholas at Our Lady of Grace Parish, which is commemorating its 50th year as the Catholic community of West Babylon. Our Lady of Grace was our first genuine encounter of Church. The people of the parish, from the many lay volunteers up to the deacons and pastor, formed us in the faith. It is the parish in which we were both confirmed -- me in 2000, and Nicholas in 2001, with me as his sponsor. Today we remembered our grandfather, John Kuziemko Sr., who died 20 years ago today. We will return tomorrow as a family to participate in the Christmas vigil Mass at 3 p.m. Nicholas will be a lector.

After breakfast, I baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, a Christmas gift for my aunt, my mother's sister. This cooking kick has inspired me. Now, everybody's getting food from me this Christmas. On Monday I'll be cooking dinner for the nuclear family. Being able to feed others, and recognize this as a gift, my very best offering, makes me very happy. This, for me, has been the great discovery of Advent.

On our dismissal yesterday the postulant director reminded us that we don't stop being Capuchins when we go on vacation. He told us to bear the spirit of Francis wherever we go. Show the world the example of Gospel living we are learning to model in its beauty, love, and truth. Most of all, he told us to go to Church and keep praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Prayer is the air for our spiritual bodies. The Eucharist is our daily bread. We must remember to breathe in the Spirit. We must feed on the goodness of the Lord. Sitting in my bedroom meditating and reciting morning prayer; and later, praying during Eucharist, I felt the nearness, in their absence, of my Capuchin brothers.

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