A Pillow for Baby Jesus
Long ago in Poland, in ancient Krakow, there lived an old widow named Helena. On the morning of Christmas Eve she went to the Dominican Church to watch the priests put up the Christmas creche. She saw Father Jacek put the beautiful statue in the manger and she noticed that the baby Jesus had no pillow. She told the priest that baby Jesus should have a pillow and that the hay was too scratchy. But Father Jacek said the monastery had no money for a pillow and that the Holy Family was very poor and that is most likely the way Mary placed the little baby Jesus. All Helena could say was “I don’t think so!”
When Helena went home all she could think about was baby Jesus lying on that scratchy and rough hay and the more she thought about it the more angry she became. “What does Father Jacek know about how a mother would prepare for a baby? She said to herself. “Of course Mary had a pillow for the baby Jesus!” She answered herself.
She decided that she had to make supper and got out the fixings to make homemade kluski (noodles) with cabbage. But as she was rolling out the dough she became angrier and angrier that the poor baby Jesus had no pillow and her kluski got bigger and bigger until she realized that she wasn’t really making the delicate noodles she had planned. Then she had an idea! She would make little pillows from the dough and stuff them with cabbage! After she had done that she decided that maybe if she stuffed the pillows with blueberries they would be softer and have a wonderful fragrance of summer. So she made some little pillows stuffed with blueberries! And then she thought if I stuffed the pillows with cheese they would be ever so soft! And so she stuffed some of her little pillows with cheese!
After she had boiled all her little pillows she took them to the Dominican church for baby Jesus. Father Jacek was praying at the creche and when he saw the little pillows he became very excited! He said to Helena “Oh thank you so much! Here it is Christmas Eve and the monks have nothing for supper. How kind of you to think of us!
Well …what could Helena say… she gave the little pillows to Father Jacek… thankful that she could help the poor monks who had given all their own food to the poor but so sad that the baby Jesus still had no pillow. She looked at the beautiful little statue and through her tears she was sure that she saw the baby Jesus smile and give her a little wink! And she knew that she had given the baby Jesus a pillow after all… a soft and beautiful pillow… her heart filled with love and charity!
Nobody remembers little Helena today… even though she invented the little pillows that we call pierogi and that everyone has at their Christmas Eve dinner… but she doesn’t mind. Father Jacek on the other hand later became the famous St. Jacek, St. Hyacinth in English, one of the patron saints of Poland and interestingly enough the patron saint of pierogi makers! (As if it were his idea!)
The moral to this story is that all of us are called to prepare the way for Jesus… not with a soft pillow but with a soft heart… to comfort those who are lonely or sad… to take the time for someone who just needs to talk… to have compassion and patience for those who just need our time. These are the presents that we can prepare for the Baby Jesus. Like Helena, our charity and kindness will make Him smile!
By Rev. Charles Jan DiMascola
Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Turners Falls, MA