…not the drink, mind you, but “the real McCoy!”
One of the reform group of the Order of St. Francis. i was with the Capuchin Friars for 22 years, and it was never a regret for me. It was, rather, a genuine blessing and privilege to be a tiny part of such a beloved family. Always walking beside the “everyday people” through every crisis in history, it is only right and just that such a warm, wonderful treat was named after them. The little capuchin beauty pictured here was created for me today by my barista, NOAH, of Bank Square Cafe in Beacon, New York.
But I acquired my first taste for them while living in Italy, where i came to taste as well the “royal treatment” given to the cappuccini, known as “the Minutemen of the Popes” for their readiness to serve wherever and whenever he needed them. In the photo atop this website, Pope John Paul II was saying to me in a vast crowd of visitors, “I save my Capuchins, my favorites, for last!”
This day, September 17, is the day on which the Catholic Church celebrates the honor miraculously given to St. Francis of Assisi to bear in his own body the Wounds of Jesus Christ, God granting the little man his greatest wish, “that I might truly KNOW the LOVE that filled my LORD!” Again how Blessed was i, to have spent weeks at Mount LaVerna,the site of this miracle. In a way i can almost say that i spent my life there, as on one occasion i had wandered to the valley below in order to get my own glimpse of the great cliff on which it all happened. While i was standing in the field, mesmerized, i’ve always believed it was Francis himself who tapped me on my knucklehead and pointed it down to my feet just before they were bitten by a snake. Running faster than ever in my life back to the friary, i was stopped in the kitchen during a drink of water by a young woman who assisted the friars. Pia showed me all of the jars of anti-venom in the frig, as she screamed in Italian, “Dio ti ha salvato oggi. Egli deve avere grandi progetti per te. God has saved you today; He must have great plans for you!” These plans would include my departure from the friars, my taking a different road, marrying and raising six children. How perfectly Noah’s heart in today’s drink symbolized my heart and its desperate need to grow…in love.
And HOW GREATLY BLESSED finally that today i count among my most revered friends a very very special Capuchin, known and loved around the world as Padre Cantalamessa. Just Google him and see this 81 year young man, be blown away by his dynamic and holy effervescence, one of my surest reasons to HOPE in the renewal of this Church. While others
looked with scorn upon my “leaving my post,” Fr. Raniero sent me a
Christmas card with image of the Wise Men who followed the star to the
Baby Lord, and he played with the Italian meaning of my wife’s maiden name, saying, “Surely you yourself followed a STELLA that you might better know the Perfect Love of Christ.” And in a separate card to my mother, the Preacher to the Popes for the last 35 years said, “Your son still holds the heart of a Capuchin.”
This blog which i have initiated will share the stories of a man
who tries to pass on to his own children the secrets of the world’s most beloved saint. How do i go about a life of marriage and of fatherhood while leaving a good chunk of myself in Assisi and LaVerna?! As Tony Bennett sings, “I left my heart WITH San Francisco. High on a hill he still calls to me.”
i suppose that one main point of this blog is to counter the notion, so easily and so frequently tossed about, that the Church is in the hands of some sleepy and backwards old men. Cantalamessa and his “boss,” Pope Francis, have proven that when anyone, male or female, youth or senior, comes to know in their heart the perfect, “crazy love” of God, it renders them ageless and true instruments of the Eternal Spirit, like the ageless Saint Francis himself.