Of Feasts and Fasts: Pigs, Pollinators, and the Incarnation

By Andy McDonald, father to Peter, Grade 9

It’s always a pleasure coming to Ft. Scott and visiting St. Martin’s, especially now that our son, Peter, is a freshman there. There’s a sense of reunion that accompanies these visits as well. Whether it be a banquet, a random rugby game, or the Prairie Troubadour it is rare that we don’t run into old friends like Drs. William and Amy Fahey, JP and Katie Schafer, the Taylors and others, and now as we have become a part of the St. Martin’s community, new friendships are formed and fostered with each event. It was with joyful anticipation that we looked forward to making the trip down for this last banquet of the year: The great Feast of the Annunciation.

The Feast arrived, as it usually does, in mid/late-Lent, and provides a brief respite from the rigors of the season, without being in any way a contradiction of the same, as it celebrates such essential tenets of our faith, without which the current season would not exist. One of the challenges of properly celebrating the cycle of feasts and fasts is keeping them in their proper place and context, and not allowing them to simply become disruptions or excuses to break Lenten commitments.

The Annunciation banquet did not disappoint. It provided an excellent example of how a community of old and new friends can come together to keep all of these very important things; friendships and feasts, and celebrating the highest things, in their proper places. This is particularly refreshing and restorative in the face of the blind rage that permeates the world today, and re-confirms why we have sent our son to St. Martin’s.

The banquet started off, as most good things should, with a telling of the bees, a ritual I had only recently discovered in GK Chesterton’s Father Brown story “A Man with Two Beards.” To see it in action was simple and transcendent.

The Bees were now in the know and from there the context for the evening was set in the most fitting fashion with a rosary procession, which ended at Our Lady’s circle.

Following the rosary, the banqueteers converged back on Theotokos Hall for the official commencement of the evening’s festivities and to once again, or for the first time for some, experience another of Chef Macik’s masterful executions of a proper Catholic Feast, this time with the assistance of the Freshman class.

Course after course, Chef Macik delivered with perfection, as his diligent freshmen workers waited and bussed tables like professionals.

We were also treated with a beautiful reflection and toast by Dr. Klassen, perfectly suited to the glorious Feast we were celebrating.

Between the courses, each class performed a selection of folk songs much to the delight of the families in attendance. It is such a joy to see these young lads, willing, able and unafraid to join arm in arm as brothers to sing the songs of great, and some less great, deeds of men, and the camaraderie formed around doing real things.

A couple courses in, we were to experience another, very different procession, that of the criminally charged object of our feast: the pig. Much to the alimentary benefit of those in attendance, the porcine fiend was charged, tried, and convicted, in spite of stunning legal remonstrations on the part of the defense, and then his beautifully prepared scapegoat brought in and served from a central place of honor.

When the feasting and formalities were complete, the evening’s less formal open-floor ceilidh-ish moshpit commenced, much to the entertainment of all involved, and most of the onlookers, with the possible exception of a few mothers worried about injuries.

All in all it was a glorious weekend, a properly celebrated Feast, a reunion of friends, all the things that make this St. Martin’s community hold such a high place in our hearts and make us long for the next time we get to go back to do it again. But perhaps most importantly, as we parents and families have scattered back across the country to our own places, we have to try to live to the mission in our own lives, that we’ve sent our boys to learn at St. Martin’s. There’s no Feast without sacrifice. There’s no Easter without the cross.