Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
~ from "Lepanto" by G.K. Chesterton
Recently we held a wonderful First Sunday gathering, honoring Our Lady of the Rosary as always but especially so in this month of October. Mr. Verlander told the story of the great victory in the Battle of Lepanto of the Christians over the invading Turks in 1571, and recited Chesterton's epic poem. What do we make of such far away dangers and feats? The daunting deeds accomplished by heroic, valiant, holy figures against certain death, with miraculous success, at once highlights our smallness and emboldens our better natures. And we fight in the same great battle, truly, granted on a different battlefield, wielding the same great weapon that accomplished the victory of Pope Pius V's Holy League under Don John - the Holy Rosary. The world is less friendly than ever before to those who love the Lord and wish to walk in His ways, especially via the sorrowful way of His Holy Mother and according to the old traditions, and we live our daily lives in spiritual battle. Like the unlikely hero we find in the figure of Don John and even more fittingly, in the figure of Don Quixote, we are able to pick out our path, filled with obstacles as it is, in faith and confidence and through prayers offered to Our Lady. We may seem foolish in the eyes of the world, but we trust to hope in the rewards of eternal salvation, divorced from this world. Our Lady is our loving guide and protectress, to whom we offer roses in return for strength and grace to persevere.
This time, we were missing our two oldest children, both off at school. We wondered what the day and evening would be like, not in doubt over its success, but nevertheless curious over how things would unfold. It is no secret that our daughter is a lively hostess and a talented musician, and takes lead in those arenas with great ease. And our son is simply one of the most likable kinds of boys to be around, and tends to garner, unwittingly, a happy little gathering of like-minded fools (wise fools, to keep the theme). Happily, the day was different but entirely good and enjoyable, and it was something to see our younger set take lead here and there. The poetry recitation stirred hearts and the music did too, growing quickly out of the Fatima Farm theme song to a rousing singalong to all manner of folksongs, romantic to melancholy to rebellious. We've said such things before, but the experience was a welcome respite from the worries of the world, and a vibrant proof that the way to victory is to pass on the things that matter to children, again and again. It must be admitted that the missing party was missed, and we look forward eagerly to the days of their return - for the sake of the home and hearth; for the sake of our friends - but we also are certain that their successes afar add to the richness of life at the farm here at home, sweet home!
There is much to be thankful for even as it is the time of year when the natural world loses its luster. The vibrant, steady greens of summer are traded for the rustic hues of fall, and things go quieter, more restful and reflective; there are fruits but of a different sort. Wardrobes are changed, both for us and for the world outside. It is a favorite time of year around here, as there is nothing quite like the beautiful colors and fragrances of autumn - colorful leaves crunching underfoot and the smell of fire-smoke wafting on the chilly air. The stars seem more twinkly if the sky is clear when the air is cold, and the recent full harvest moon proved that something so silvery can also give off a golden glow. The moon ever reminds us of Our Holy Mother, whose radiance only reflects that of her Son, and points us to him. We know a storm is ever brewing, threatening our way of life, and it seems we should be afraid; but we will continue to sing and pray and tell stories together, holding to the Old Mass and sacraments as the heart of everything - the whole of what we want to pass on to our children.
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.