Sunday, May 7, 2017

Our Lady's Little Warriors

Our Lady of Fatima
Statue in our Community Room

Those of us who live in the northern hemisphere always celebrate Easter during the Spring, when all of nature seems intent on imitating her Lord as she rises gloriously from the death of winter into newness of life.  Here in Virginia, the gardeners are likewise intent on fostering that new life by sewing seed, watering and transplanting.  This year, the unusually warm beginnings of spring, followed by more seasonal coolness have added to the challenge and excitement. But gardening is not only about nurturing life, it is also about warring against all that would destroy that budding vitality, namely, vicious bugs and weeds.  This dual aspect makes our outdoor work a constant source of meditation on the Paschal Mystery which is death orientated toward life.  We can never forget the Cross, even during Easter, just as we never forget that the Resurrection is the whole point of Lent.  As St. Paul puts it in his letter to the Colossians, we have to put to death everything in us that is orientated toward our self centered nature so that we are free to live for God.

The early warm weather was a terrible temptation to plant earlier than usual.  I did succumb in the case of the potatoes.  Usually, I cut up the seed potatoes and let them set in the greenhouse until their eyes begin to sprout before I plant them, but this year the 80 degree weather impelled me to plant with potato eyes still closed.  Well, it was providential.  The few potatoes that had sprouting eyes came up soon and then were zapped by a sudden frost, while most of the others came up later after the cold spell had passed.  But the warm weather also awakened the hibernating potato bugs who were voracious for their breakfast after their long winter’s sleep.  The previous year had seen a plague of these pests which no pesticide was able to quell, so I had determined to “go organic”  It was too late for row covers, so the brutal task of crushing each potato bug and smashing each cluster of bright orange eggs (cleverly hidden beneath the leaves!) fell to my lot.  The war was on and it has been a tedious battle for me and the postulants who have joined me in the fight.
But reinforcements have arrived!  With Mary’s month of May came Our Lady’s little warrior beetles:  better known as ladybugs.  Last year these sweet black dotted red beetles had saved our crop of Southern Peas from destruction by eating up the invading aphids.  Now they have come to rescue our precious potatoes from the evil potato beetle.  Isn’t it just like Our Blessed Mother to send such a humble ally?  And when the world faced the Satan inspired force of Communism, what did she do but to beg three little shepherd children to pray the Rosary and offer sacrifices to bring peace?
Pope Francis will be canonizing two of those children, Jacinta and Francisco on Saturday, May 13th, the hundredth anniversary of Mary’s apparitions at Fatima.  We will celebrate by receiving a new postulant into our enclosure.  May she and all of us be little warriors of prayer and penance for the salvation of sinners and the beginning of peace for our poor strife ridden world.