FROM THE PRESIDENT'S KITCHEN TABLE
When Spring finally arrived it got me thinking about dandelions. No surprise, our yard is full of them. I used to compare them to vices and faults when I lived in the suburbs where everybody seemed to be at constant war with the “weeds.” But since I moved to the country I’ve seen this cheerful little wild flower with new eyes. I think it should be the official flower of the Church Militant. Why? Well, let me give you a list of dandelion virtues.
First of all it is one of the hardiest plants on the face of the earth. Flood, drought, chemicals, and weeding forks can’t eradicate this tenacious little plant. You will never see a gardener brushing his hands together saying, “Well, that finally does it for the dandelions.” Nope, they’ll be back. I call that fortitude. Their hardiness comes from the huge taproot that goes deep down into the soil which reminds me of the parable of the sower. When we imitate the dandelion by planting our roots deep in the word of God and in the Sacraments of the Church it gives us the ability to withstand every trial the world throws at us.
Dandelions aren’t fussy or demanding and eager for attention like cultivated flowers. They’re low to the ground and thrive without pampering. They’re humble.You can walk on them without killing them or crushing their spirit. I call that patience and long-suffering. They aren’t prone to disease, aphids, weevils, scale, etc.; they are strong. The fuzzy yellow flower is cheery and bright and attracts the innocent, especially children, who happily pick them for flower bouquets. Would that we attract such souls to the faith by the simple beauty of teaching Catholic truth in a warm and encouraging way, especially through example.
But the dandelion isn’t just decorative; it’s nourishing as well. Its leaves make salad or cooked greens. Its blossoms can be breaded and fried as a vegetable or fermented with yeast and sugar for dandelion wine. Its roots can be washed, dried, and made into a powder for “coffee.” The dandelion can literally “feed the hungry” reminding us of the corporal works of mercy.
The Church Militant is called to spread the word of God and the dandelion is a first class evangelizer. When the flower goes to seed its puff balls catch the smallest breeze to transmit the seeds far and wide. Think of all the little ones who make a wish and speed them on their way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were as effective at spreading the seeds of faith as the dandelion?
The word itself comes from the French, dent de lyon, meaning “tooth of the lion” because of its jagged leaves. What a reminder that we must always be prepared to be martyrs. It makes me think of the letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch written as he was taken to Rome to face a gruesome death in the Coliseum. “I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ."Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the Church Militant to embrace the humble dandelion as our flower reminding us: to be strong and unwavering in our faith, never crushed by the evils of the world, cheerful, rooted in the word of God, eager to feed the hungry and perform the other corporal and spiritual works of mercy, to spread the word of God with zeal but with gentleness and humility as well. I’m blowing my dandelion puff and wishing that holy and zealous Catholics become as common on the landscape as the fuzzy little, much maligned wildflower we call the dandelion.