by Michaelyn Hein
Our summer vacation neared its end; its lazy days rounded the bend to their final lap as they prepared to pass the baton to fall. With the looming need to turn the calendar to September, my mind naturally followed the next step: not to chillier days and falling leaves, but the start of school.
A few years ago, the thought of a new school year brought with it a certain level of anxiety as I put on my metaphoric armor and readied myself to battle what demons might come through newly “broad-minded” curricula and purportedly well-meaning lessons in “diversity”.
In the face of the strong anti-family agenda that had recently infiltrated our school district, I prepared to protect my children from those who would seek to do them harm. When it became clear, though, that I could not fend off the onslaught as swiftly as needed, my husband and I made the decision to remove our children from the threat completely by withdrawing them and homeschooling instead.
Thus, a new school year no longer carries with it the immediate threats that it used to. Still, my mother’s heart worries for other children. It aches for the young 4th grade minds in a certain teacher’s classroom, where the children are encouraged to announce via the classroom bulletin board what their sexuality is and what their preferred pronouns are. It grows heavy with the remembrance that every single grade level from kindergarten through 5th grade in our local school has at least one child who has taken the first steps in transitioning from one gender to another.
I wonder how many more there will be this year. I contemplate, in effect, the number of children who will be harmed by forced lessons in how to celebrate their peer’s decision to swap genders. I am concerned for the confusion—and worse—the effects wrought in these young minds by such an education.
Though my family now enjoys some distance from these issues, I recognize that homeschooling does not create an impenetrable bubble. No matter how much we try to hole ourselves up in the bunker that is our house, the fact remains that the evils of the world outside our front door still threaten to barge in and make themselves at home. Though we do all we can to protect our children from the agendas that seek to break down, destroy and attack the family, we still inevitably must live in the world, even as we try with all our might to model for our children how not to be of it.
With the upset of natural law ever on the rise, it’s easy to feel defeated even while the battle still rages. The thought inspires visions of Peter walking on water, the sea churning around him and threatening to pull him in. Indeed, with his eyes off Jesus, Peter began to slip beneath the surface, crying, “Lord, save me!”
Like Peter, we are called by our heavenly Father to keep our eyes on Jesus in these troubled times. Perhaps we do—for at least a little while. If we have faith in the first place, we step out into the tempest with great confidence. But the world’s storms can easily take our attention from our Lord and, like Peter, we begin to sink.
If we are to stay above the rocky waves of the world and keep our children above them, we must keep our eyes fixed on our Savior. But if even Peter, to whom Jesus entrusted the keys to the kingdom of heaven, had trouble doing this, then how do we?
Our Lady came to the children of Fatima with an answer: the Rosary. A prayer centered entirely on the life, death and resurrection of our Savior, the Rosary is, after the Mass, perhaps the best way to center ourselves on Christ.
St. Josemaria Escriva advised of the Rosary, “If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will help you to have presence of God.”
In other words, the Rosary does not change the condition of the street on which we stand any more than Peter’s trust in Jesus changed the condition of the sea. Rather, the prayer of the Rosary, like a confident gaze fixed on Christ, changes the disposition of those who practice it.
The children of Fatima knew this well. Their visits from Mary caused them to suffer no small amount of trouble within their families and community. They were kidnapped and threatened with death. Still, they held fast to their rosaries, to their commitments to prayer and penance, and in so doing, they kept their hearts rested in the greatest hope and consolation they had—our Blessed Mother and our constant Lord.
Like our first Pope and the young saints of Fatima, we, too, suffer. We all must walk the tumultuous waters of the day’s troubles. And in response, we must cast our eyes upon the Lord even as the world around us crashes in upon itself.
And so, as we prepare to face another school year, or even another day in these upside-down and backwards times, let us follow the advice of St. Louise de Marillac, who advised, “Commend your children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When parents pray the Rosary, at the end of each decade they should hold the rosary aloft and say to her: ‘With these beads I bind my children to your Immaculate Heart.’”
The Rosary may not change the world our children must live in, but through it, says the saint, Mary “will attend their souls.” With our children nestled under not only our parental wings, but also those of our Blessed Mother and our heavenly Father, then it is more likely that the only fall our family experiences this autumn will be that of the leaves.
Michaelyn Hein is a Catholic writer, wife and mother who resides in Hopewell, New Jersey.