Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Mother  Dilecta with Lucina

As we are in the swing of things with our summer gardens, I am reminded of the Church’s place in farming throughout the ages.  Pope Pius VII in  1802 wrote, “Agriculture is the first and most important of all arts; so it is also the first and true riches of states.” This common theme of agricultural wealth repeated throughout the social doctrine of the Church is preserved today.

Monastery garden
In 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reflected on the inestimable spiritual and economic value of small family farms, reminding lay Catholics and clergy of the importance of preserving rural communities, good stewardship principles and their rootedness in the faith.

In 1923, Bishop Edwin O’Hara broke ground with the founding of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (recently re-branded “Catholic Rural Life” or CRL), a leader in nurturing the interests of small farm ownership, rural life, and the rural church.

Produce from our monastery farm
Originally headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the Catholic Rural Life’s mission is simple: to apply the teachings of Christ to rural lands and to be active in policy reforms aimed at benefiting farming culture. From its very foundation the organization’s aim was to bring “Christ to country, the country to Christ!” and anchor the spiritual life in the hearts of all who work the land.

 Pope Benedict XVI recognized it too when he said:

“More than a few young people have already chosen this path; also many professionals are returning to dedicate themselves to the agricultural enterprise, feeling that they are responding not only to a personal and family need, but also to a ‘sign of the times,’ to a concrete sensibility for the ‘common good.”

We certainly see more and more young people in our area heading to the land, not only to raise their own food for their family, but their local community as well.  Of course there is also the desire to raise their children in a more balanced life style.

As Benedictines we know that stewardship of the land puts us into a deeper relationship with our Creator, as we tend to the crops we sow and the animals we raise. Throughout the ages, in monasteries, those who work the land have an understanding that the earth itself is a gift, a gift that must be shared with all who come to partake in our life. 
Feeding the cattle
Our new Seattle Archbishop, His Excellency Paul Etienne, was president of Catholic Rural Life in 2014 when he stated: “Society depends on the country and the farm for the produce that feeds the nation—the world,” he said. “Even more, it needs the wholesome vitality of the families produced by rural living. There is a sacramental nature to living and working in a rural setting. Farming provides a common purpose and a natural setting that helped pull and hold a family together.”

As Benedictines we understand that we have a great responsibility to care for all that has been given to us. The Church has repeatedly taught that the misuse of God’s creation betrays the gift God has given us for the good of all humanity. We know what it what it means to be called by God to a vocation of the land. 

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