Early on, the table developed a special character in our home. Even when our oldest child was a baby, it became obvious that our family manifested most often and most abundantly around the table. Here, father, mother, child – then children – frequently and consistently broke off from other matters, gladly, and gathered to be fed. It is a matter of necessity, of course, but the manner is important. Always, thanksgiving petitions are made foremost, and over the years it has lightened the burdens of the heart to watch each of the children develop through the stages of (often charming) mimicry to mature piety, all through the repetition of the blessing before meals. Over time, we have added additional prayers for special occasions or feasts, transforming what in our culture and day can be a rushed, indulgent, solitary, or mediocre moment of sustenance. The gathering at mealtime for years has been almost sacred, with an appropriate demand of punctuality (here, yes, we make use of a bell) and attention, even when the food prepared does not quite attain the mark of excellence or match the desired vision of culinary delight, and even when the meal is rudely interrupted by a family member (or two, or three) ill tempered, ill mannered, or simply ill, and even when the table becomes an arena for hilarious antics or feats of drama or song. The ritual is always the same. We come together, we pray as a family, and we enjoy our meal together. The homeschooling endeavor has the wonderful accidental fruit of rarely missing a member – though the Mr.’s work may occasionally cause him to miss dinner, or a weekend choir practice or altar server training may make the lunch table less populous. However, the family around the table is a staple, and a vital part of the family existence and flourishing. Often the children have helped with the food preparations (at least always with the setting of the table) and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Manners are learned at the table – how to sit, pray, eat, converse properly (more or less, in varying degrees according to ability). After dinner, the head of the family reads from Scripture, usually, marking our communion with added significance. On Sundays, the family lingers at the table to play trivia or another game. The youngest child never forgets to ask if Dad “wants some ice cream?” ever hopeful that every night is a dessert night. Since the family that prays together stays together, as the old saying goes, it stands to reason that the family that eats together also stays together, bound meaningfully each day by the moments that nourish our souls as much as or more so than our bodies. To Christ the King, may we ever be bound; may the Saints be our guides and examples; may the Blessed Virgin ever wrap us in her mantle; may Our Father continue to keep us; may the Holy Spirit guide, bless, protect, encourage, and console us on our pilgrim way of fasts and feasts!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.