Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agricultural Family and Industrial Family

Excerpt from an essay by Louis de Bonald:

Agriculture feeds her children, but industry gives birth to children she cannot feed.
The child who comes into the world in an agricultural family finds his sustenance already assured, for the earth that his parents cultivate in his turn awaits him to give him is bread.
The child born into an industrial family expects his sustenance from the salary he will earn if a master employs him, and if his industry is not stricken by events that could make it falter, or shut down, or prevent the sale of its products.
The farmer lives from his produce even when he does not sell it.  The industrial worker cannot live unless he sells what he produces.
Thus, the agricultural family enjoys an existence independent of men and events, while the industrial family is dependent upon them both.
A farm is indeed a family whose head is the father.  Whether he owns or rents the farm, he busies himself with the same labors as his servants and eats the same bread, often at the same table.  The farm nourishes all its offspring.  It has occupations for those of all ages and both sexes.  Even the elderly, who cannot perform heavy labor, finish their careers as they began it and stay around the house watching the children and animals.
There is nothing similar to this in the industrial family, whose members work in isolation and often in different industries, and who do not know their master apart from the exigencies of his commands.  Industry does not nourish all ages and both sexes.  It does employ the child, and often so young that his health and strength are ruined.  The child may receive some instruction, but he is abandoned in his advanced years when he can no longer work.  Then the industrial worker has no bread except what he takes from his children’s salary or what he receives from public charity.
The farmer toils from the rising to the setting of the sun but never at night.  He rests on Sunday and takes up his work again on Monday.  The industrial worker works even at night in order to gain a higher salary, especially when he works at home by the piece.  Whether he rests on Sunday or not, overheated by his forced labor, on Monday he debauches.
The farmer works outside and standing up.  He strengthens his body by the hard and painful labor of the fields and exerts his intelligence upon the numerous details and variations in the culture of the earth, trees, and beasts.  He tames the animals and forces rebellious nature to submit to his care.  The industrial worker works hunched over and sedentary, turns a crank, makes the shuttle go to and fro, and pulls together the threads.  He spends his life in cellars or attics and, becoming a machine himself, he exerts his fingers, but never his mind.  It can thus be said that there is nothing less industrious than the industrial worker.
Everything improves the intelligence of the farmer and lifts his thoughts towards Him who gives fruitfulness to the earth, dispenses the seasons, and makes the fruit ripen.  Everything debases the intelligence of the worker.  He sees nothing above the master who employs him, or at best the inventor of the machine to which he is attached.
We can thus say that the former waits for everything from God, and that the latter receives everything from man.
The farmer tells his neighbors of his discoveries and new processes that he invents to improve his cultivation.  The industrialist and the merchant keep their speculations secret.  We can thus say that the agriculture that disperses men about the countryside unites them without bringing them together, while the commerce that crowds them into cities brings them together without uniting them.

The Faith and Industrial Capitalism

I don't know how Belloc does it.  In the abstracts of his essays he was astoundingly able to condense the essence of arguments into such brevity and clarity that you almost don't need to read the essay.  Here's his intro to "The Faith and Industrial Capitalism".  However, if this piques your interest, I do suggest you read the whole thing:

Industrial Capitalism is a manifest evil. It cries out against our sense of justice, its products offend our sense of beauty, the society based on it is not only vile but increasingly unstable. It came into existence through Calvinism, which was the vital principle informing all the revolt against the Faith at the origin of modern times. Yet there is no specific principle in Industrial Capitalism which can be doctrinally condemned. No Catholic can deny the rights of property, or of free contract. No Catholic can join the efforts made to be rid of the evils of Industrial Capitalism by way of civil war or tyranny. Least of all can any Catholic have anything to do with the inhuman system called "Communism." The remedy for the evils of Industrial Capitalism will not be found in any Socialistic action or theory developed under the very same false philosophy as produced Industrial Capitalism. We know that the remedy would be worse than the disease. The disease will never be remedied until the mind of society has been changed by conversion to the Faith. 

The rest.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pulling Inward for the World's Sake

Its a great paradox that the renewal of culture comes from those that retreat from it: monks.  There is often the understanding that those who have moved to the land have sort of "given up" on the world and left it to its miseries.  Yet, most of us on the land feel very different, feel as if we must move to the land not only for our own souls, but for the sake of the world (see the BXVI quote on my sidebar).  Yet, I was working on a project and came across this quote from ol' Bene in Spe Salvi and it was a great articulation and example of this thought:

"While this community-oriented vision of the “blessed life” is certainly directed beyond the present world, as such it also has to do with the building up of this world—in very different ways, according to the historical context and the possibilities offered or excluded thereby. At the time of Augustine, the incursions of new peoples were threatening the cohesion of the world, where hitherto there had been a certain guarantee of law and of living in a juridically ordered society; at that time, then, it was a matter of strengthening the basic foundations of this peaceful societal existence, in order to survive in a changed world. Let us now consider a more or less randomly chosen episode from the Middle Ages, that serves in many respects to illustrate what we have been saying. It was commonly thought that monasteries were places of flight from the world (contemptus mundi) and of withdrawal from responsibility for the world, in search of private salvation. Bernard of Clairvaux, who inspired a multitude of young people to enter the monasteries of his reformed Order, had quite a different perspective on this. In his view, monks perform a task for the whole Church and hence also for the world. He uses many images to illustrate the responsibility that monks have towards the entire body of the Church, and indeed towards humanity; he applies to them the words of pseudo-Rufinus: “The human race lives thanks to a few; were it not for them, the world would perish ...”[12]. Contemplatives—contemplantes—must become agricultural labourers—laborantes—he says. The nobility of work, which Christianity inherited from Judaism, had already been expressed in the monastic rules of Augustine and Benedict. Bernard takes up this idea again. The young noblemen who flocked to his monasteries had to engage in manual labour. In fact Bernard explicitly states that not even the monastery can restore Paradise, but he maintains that, as a place of practical and spiritual “tilling the soil”, it must prepare the new Paradise. A wild plot of forest land is rendered fertile—and in the process, the trees of pride are felled, whatever weeds may be growing inside souls are pulled up, and the ground is thereby prepared so that bread for body and soul can flourish[13]. Are we not perhaps seeing once again, in the light of current history, that no positive world order can prosper where souls are overgrown?"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pius XII speaks to Catholic Farmers

I came across this in a collection of writings from Pius XII I was thumbing through.  I was able to find it on the web and now recommend it to you.  This is a MUST read - its packed.  I highlighted a few lines that I found particularly interesting or profound:

A Welcome
We always experience particular pleasure in welcoming representatives of occupations that make up the economic and social life of a people. We have added satisfaction on this occasion in greeting you, beloved sons, delegates of a vast National Confederation, comprised of a large number of owner-operator farmers. The lands that you cultivate are the "sweet fields," "dulcia arva," so dear to the gentle Vergil (Eclogue, 1, 3). They are the lands of Italy, whose perennial and life-giving healthfulness, whose fertile fields, sunny hills, and shadowy woods, whose generous vines and olive trees, whose sleek flocks were exalted by Pliny (Nat. Hist. 1. III, 5, n. 41). "O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas!" (Verg., Georg. II, 458-459). "O more than happy husbandmen," exclaimed the great poet of the country, "did they but know their blessings!" Hence We could not let this occasion pass without speaking some word of encouragement and exhortation, especially since we are all well aware how much the moral recovery of our whole people depends on a class of farmers socially sound and religiously firm.1
Contact with Nature
More than anyone else. you live in continual contact with nature. It is actual contact, since your lives are lived in places still remote from the excesses of an artificial civilization. Under the sun of the Heavenly Father your lives are dedicated to bringing forth from the depths of the earth the abundant riches which His hand has hidden there for you. Your contact with Mother Earth has also a deep social significance, because your families are not merely consumer-communities but also and especially producer-communities.2
Rooted in the Family
Your lives are rooted in the family -- universally, deeply, and completely; consequently, they conform very closely to nature. In this fact lies your economic strength and your ability to withstand adversity in critical times. Your being so strongly rooted in the family constitutes the importance of your contribution to the correct development of the private and public order of society. You are called upon for this reason to perform an indispensable function as source and defense of a stainless moral and religious life. For the land is a kind of nursery which supplies men, sound in soul and body, for all occupations, for the Church, and for the State.3
Rural Culture
So much the more, then, must great care be taken to preserve for the nation the essential elements of what might be called genuine rural culture. We must preserve the qualities of industriousness, simple and honest living, respect for authority, especially for parental authority, love of country, and loyalty to traditions which have proved a source of good throughout the centuries. We must preserve readiness to aid one another within the family circle and amongst families, from home to home. All of these qualities we must have animated with a true religious spirit, for without such a spirit these very virtues tend to degenerate into unbridled greed for profit. May the fear of God and faith in God, a faith which finds daily expression in prayers recited together by the whole family, sustain and guide the life of the workers of the fields. Let the Church remain the heart of the village, the shrine of the people. Sunday after Sunday, may it gather the faithful, true to the sacred traditions of their ancestors. There may they lift their minds above material things to the praise and service of God and to supplication for the strength to think and live in a truly Christian manner during the coming week.4
Balanced Rewards
Farming has essentially a family character and is, therefore, very important to the social and economic prosperity of the whole people. In consequence, the tiller of the soil has a special right to a proper reward from his labor. During the last century and even at the present time there have been discouraging examples of attempts to sacrifice farming to other ends. If one is looking for the highest and most rapidly increasing national economy or for the cheapest possible provisioning of the nation with farm products, there will be, in either case, a temptation to sacrifice the farming enterprise.5
Duties to Soil and Neighbor
It devolves upon you, therefore, to demonstrate that on account of its family character farming does not exclude the advantages of other kinds of business, and, furthermore, that it avoids their evils. Be adaptable, attentive, and active stewards of your native soil, which is to be used but never exploited. Let it be seen that you are thinking, thrifty men, open to progress, men who courageously employ your own and others' capital to help and supplement your labor, provided that such expenditure does not endanger the future of your families. Show that you are honest in your sales, that you are not greedily shrewd at the expense of the public, and that you are well-disposed buyers in your country's markets.
We know well how often it is possible to fall short of this ideal. Notwithstanding uprightness of intention and dignity of conduct upon which many farmers may pride themselves, it is none the less true that the present day demands great firmness of principle and strength of will. You must prefer to earn a living in the sweat of your brow rather than succumb to the diabolical temptation of easy gain, which would take advantage of the dire need of a neighbor.6
Education for Rural Life
Another exhibition of selfishness frequently manifests itself through the fault of parents who put their children to work too early in life to the neglect of their spiritual formation, their education, their scholastic instruction, and their special occupational training. There is no more mistaken idea than the notion that the man who tills the soil does not need a serious and adequate education to enable him to perform the varied duties of the season in timely fashion.7
Sin, the Land, and Labor
Sin did, in truth, render labor in the fields burdensome, but it was not sin that introduced such labor into the world. Before there was any sin, "God gave man the earth for his cultivation as the most beautiful and honorable occupation in the natural order." In the wake of the original sin of our first parents, all the actual sins of humanity have caused the curse to weigh upon the earth with increasing heaviness. The soil has suffered successive scourges of every kind-floods, earthquakes, pestilence, devastating wars, and land mines. In some places it has become sterile, barren, and unwholesome, and has refused to yield to man its hidden treasures. The earth is a huge wounded creature; she is ill. Bending over her, not as a slave over the clod, but as the physician over a prostrate sufferer, the tiller lovingly showers on her his care. But love, for all that it is so necessary, is not enough. To know nature, to know, so to speak, the temperament of one's own piece of land, sometimes so different from that of the very next plot; to be able to discover the germs that spoil it, the rodents that would burrow beneath it, the worms that would eat its fruits, the weeds that would infest its crops; to determine what elements it lacks and to choose the successive plantings that will enrich it even while it rests -- these and so many other things require wide and varied knowledge and information.8
Land Reforms
Besides all this, and quite apart from the rehabilitation made necessary by the war, in many places the land demands that careful and well-planned preliminary measures be taken before any reform can be accomplished in the matter of land ownership and farm contracts. Without such measures, improvised reform, as history and experience teach us, would develop into sheer demagoguery. Therefore, far from being beneficial, it would be both useless and dangerous, particularly today when humanity must still fear for its daily bread. Quite often in times past, the incoherent, deceptive vaunting of unprincipled orators has made rural populations the unwitting victims of exploitation and slaves to a domination from which they would have instinctively shrunk.9
City or Country
Because the farmer's life is so close to nature and based so substantially upon the family, certain prevalent types of injustice show up the more flagrantly in relation to that life. Such injustice finds its most evident expression in the conflict between city and country. What is the reason for this conflict, which, unfortunately, is especially characteristic of our own time?
Modern cities, with their constant growth and great concentration of inhabitants, are the typical product of the control wielded over economic life and the very life of man by the interests of large capital. As Our glorious Predecessor, Pius XI, has so effectively shown in his Encyclical, "Quadragesimo Anno," it happens too often that human needs do not, in accordance with their natural and objective importance, rule economic life and the use of capital. On the contrary, capital and its desire for gain determine what the needs of man should be and to what extent they are to be satisfied. Therefore, it is not human labor in the service of the common welfare that attracts capital to it and presses it into its service. Rather, capital tosses labor and man himself here and there like a ball in a game. If the inhabitant of the city suffers from this unnatural state of affairs, so much the more is it contrary to the very essence of the farmer's life. Notwithstanding all his difficulties, the tiller of the soil still represents the natural order of things willed by God. The farmer knows that man, by his labor, is to control material things; that material things are not to control man.10
The Flight to the City
This, then, is the deep-seated cause of the modern conflict between city and country; each viewpoint produces altogether different men. The difference of viewpoints becomes all the more pronounced the more capital, having abdicated its noble mission to promote the good of all groups in society, penetrates the farmer's world or otherwise involves it in its evils. It glitters its gold and a life of pleasure before the dazzled eyes of the farm-worker to lure him from his land to the city where he may squander his hard-won savings. The city usually holds nothing for him but disillusionment; often he loses his health, his strength, his happiness, his honor, and his very soul there. 11
Land Monopoly
After the land has been so abandoned, capital hastens to make it its own; the land then becomes no longer the object of love but of cold exploitation. Generous nurse of the city as well as of the country; it is made to produce only for speculation -- while the people suffer hunger; while the farmer, burdening himself with debts, slowly approaches ruin; while the national economy becomes exhausted from paying high prices for the provisions it is forced to import from abroad. This perversion of private rural property is seriously harmful. The new ownership has no love or concern for the plot that so many generations had lovingly tilled, and is heartless towards the families who till it and dwell upon it now. Private ownership, even though it sometimes leads to exploitation, is not, however, the cause of this perversion. Even in those instances where the State completely arrogates capital and the means of production to itself, industrial interests and foreign trade, characteristic of the city, have the upper hand. The real tiller of the soil then suffers even more. In any case, the fundamental truth consistently maintained by the social teaching of the Church is violated. The Church teaches that the whole economy of the people is organic and that all the productive capacities of national territory should be developed in healthy proportion. The conflict between country and city would never have become so great if this fundamental truth had been observed.12
To Each His Share
You farmers certainly do not desire any such conflict; you want every part of the national economy to have its share; however, you also want to keep your share. Therefore, you must have the help of sensible political planning and sound legislation. But your principal help must came from yourselves, from your cooperative unions, especially from your credit unions. Perhaps, then, the recovery of the whole economy may come from the field of agriculture.13
A Community of Labor
And finally a word about labor. You tillers of the soil form within your families a community of labor. You and your fellow-members and associates also form another community of labor. Finally, you desire to form with all the other occupational groups a great community of labor. This is in keeping with what has been ordained by God and nature. This is the true Catholic concept of labor. Work unites all men in common service to the needs of the people and in a unified effort towards perfection of self in honor of the Creator and Redeemer. In any case, remain firm in regarding your labor from the point of view of its essential value. You and your families are contributing to the public welfare; such labor protects your fundamental right to an income sufficient to maintain you in accordance with your dignity and cultural needs as men. It implies also your recognition of the necessity of uniting with all other occupational groups who labor for the various needs of society. Your labor therefore, embodies your support of the principles of social peace.14
A Parting Blessing
With all Our heart, dear sons, We invoke heaven's choicest blessings on you and on your families. The Church has always blessed you in a particular manner, and in many ways has brought your working year into her liturgical year. We invoke these blessings upon the work of your hands, from which the holy altar of God receives the bread and wine. May the Lord give you, in the words of Holy Scripture, "the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance of corn and wine!" (Gen., XXVII:28) May your lands, like the fertile Etruscan fields between Fiesole and Arezzo, so greatly admired by Livy, "be rich in grain and cattle and an abundance of all things," "frumenti ac pecoris et omnium copia rerum opulenti" (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 1. XXII, cap. 3). With these sentiments and these wishes We impart to you and to all those dear to you Our paternal Apostolic Blessing. 15
Values of Land Ownership
". . . If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another. A further consequence will result in the greater abundance of the fruits of the earth. Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them, nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self- evident. And a third advantage would spring from this: men would cling to the country in which they were born; for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life . . ." 
Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum," May 15, 1891.

  1. Catholic Rural Life Objectives First Series: O'Hara, Most Rev. Edwin V., "A Spiritual and Material Mission to Rural America," pp. 3-6. LaFarge, John, S.J., "The Church and Rural Welfare," pp. 37-41. Bishop, W. Howard, "Agrarianism, the Basis of the New Order," pp. 49-52. Third Series: Ciognani, Most Rev. Amleto Giovanni, "Address of the Apostolic Delegate," pp. 9-11. Muench, Most Rev. Aloisius J., "The Catholic Church and Rural Welfare," pp. 15-19. Sheen, Fulton J., "Challenge to Our Democracy," pp. 99-102. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter VIII, The Rural Pastorate, pp. 35-38. Chapter IX, Rural Church Expansion," pp. 39-42. Agricultural Handbook for Rural Pastors and Laymen, Thomas E. Howard, pp. 44-52. For This We Stand, L. G. Ligutti. Standing on Both Feet, Patrick T. Quinlan. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, p .1. The Popes and Social Principles of Rural Life. The Classics and Rural Life.
  2. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Third Series: Cram, Ralph Adams, "What Is a Free Man?" pp. 35-42. The Rural Homestead, Decade of Homesteading, Patrick T. Quinlan. Pioneering Today, C. W. Couture.Catholic Benedicta, Thomas C. Duffy, C.S.C.
  3. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Kalven, Janet, "Woman and Post-War Reconstruction," pp. 25-28. Salm, Martin L., My Family Cooperative," pp. 77-82. First Series: Baker. O. E., "The Church and the Rural Youth," pp. 7-29. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter I, "The Rural Catholic Family, pp. 3-7. Task of Woman in the Modern World, Janet Kalven. Land and Life for Woman McDonald, Rosemary, A Rural Mother Looks at the Land," 14-22. Home Making a Life-time Job, Catherine E. Dorff. Sacramental Protection of The Family, Emerson Hynes. Population Trends, L. G. Ligutti. The Bottom of the Barrel, Can We Survive, Patrick T. Quinlan. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, p. 2.
  4. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Berger, Leo, "Caring for the Spiritually Underprivileged," pp. 57-59. Urbain, Joseph V., "Catholic Rural Communities of Tomorrow," pp. 52-56. Schimek, William, "What Can the Rural Pastor Do?" pp. 60-64. Third Series: Boyle, Most Rev. Hugh C., "The More Abundant Life," pp. 13-14. Pitt, F. Newton, "Youth Problems in Rural Areas," pp. 53-59. Taylor, Carl C., "The Restoration of Rural Culture," pp. 83-91. Treacy, John P., "Will Youth Be Served?" pp. 103-109. Mother Mary of the Incarnate Word. "Evangelizing the Disfranchised," pp. 111-121. Willmann, Dorothy J., "Reading in the Rural Home," pp. 163. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter VI, "Catholic Culture in Rural Society," pp. 26-28. Speaking of Education Sister Helene, O.P.. "Rural Life and Art," pp. 13-17. Land and Life for Woman Buckley, Mary Imelda, "Christian Culture and Rural Life." pp. 1-4. Rogations at Maranatha, Josephine Drabek.Rural Life in a Peaceful World, pp. 4, 13-16. Catholic Rural Life Songs.
  5. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Second Series: Walster H. L., "Backgrounds of Economic Distress in the Great Plains," pp. 101-109 Rural Life in a Peaceful World, pp. 9-10.
  6. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Second Series: Schmiedeler, Edgar. O.S.B., "The Status of the Laborer in Agriculture," pp. 81-89. Kenkel. Frederick P.; "The Economic Disfranchisement of the Share-Cropper," pp, 91-100. Manifesto of Rural Life Chapter XI, "Rural Social Charity," pp. 47-51. Chapter XII, "The Farm Laborer," pp. 52-54. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, p. 6.
  7. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Muench Most Rev. Aloisius J., "Education for Rural Life," pp. 19-21. First Series: Johnson, George, "The Professional Preparation of Teachers for Catholic Rural Schools," pp. 53-56. Second Series: Christensen Chris L., "The Place of Youth in Agriculture and Rural Life"pp. 19-26. Gillis, Michael M., "The Adult Education Movement in Nova Scotia," pp. 73- 80. Third Series: Johnson, George, "The Federal Government and Education for Rural Life," pp. 27-33. Rawe, John C. S.J., "Catholic Rural Social Planning," pp. 71-81. Strittmatter, Denis, O.S.B., "Vocational Training for Colored Youth" pp 123-126. Byrne, Francis J., "Problems and Policies in Catholic Rural School Work in the South," pp. 127-132. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter IV, "Catholic Rural Education," pp. 18-22. Chapter V, "Rural Catholic Youth," pp. 23-25. Agricultural Handbook for Rural Pastors and Laymen, Howard, pp. 107-111. Speaking of Education Nutting, Willis D., "What Parents Think," pp. 1-12 Sister M. Samuel, O.S.F., "The Rural Elementary Teacher," pp. 18-27. Sister M. Mark, O.S.F., "The Rural High School Teacher," pp. 34-39. A First Born Grows Up, Olive M. Biddison. Cultural Erosion, L. G. Ligutti. A Practical School of Agriculture, Paul Sacco. Dear Sister, Sister M. Gerald, S.S.J. Training a Land Queen, E.L. Chicanot. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, pp. 16-17.
  8. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Jansen, Cornelius H., "The Role of the Scientist," pp. 22-24. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter X, "Rural Health," pp. 43-46. Land and Life for Woman McNally, Patricia, "Health and Rural Living," pp. 8-10. Drabek, Josephine, "Nobility of Rural Work," pp. 10-13. Health from the Ground Up, Jonathan Forman. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, p. 17.
  9. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Lissner Will, "Natural Law and Human Rights," pp. 13-18. Taeusch, Carl, "What Can the Catholic Church Do?" pp. 37-42. First Series: Williams, Michael, "The Green Revolution," pp. 31-36. Rawe, John C., S.J., "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in Agriculture," pp, 35-45. Miller, Raymond J.. "The 'Quadragesimo Anno' and the Reconstruction of Agriculture," pp. 47-56. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter XVI, "Rural Taxation." pp. 66-70. Agricultural Handbook for Rural Pastors and Laymen, Howard, pp. 55-66; 127- 141. Man's Relation to the Land.
  10. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Second Series Fichter, Joseph H., S.J., "A Comparative View of Agrarianism," pp. 111-116. Speaking of Education Sister M. Canice, S.S.N.D., "From Urban Teacher to Rural Teacher," pp 28-33. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, p. 18.
  11. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Second Series: Baker, O E, "Will More or Fewer People Live on the Land?"  Third Series: Briefs, Goetz; "The Back to the Land Idea," pp. 93-98. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter III, "Rural Settlement," pp. 13-17. I Am a Country Pastor, Figures Speak for Themselves, Patrick T. Quinlan.
  12. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Second Series: Crowley, Francis M. "Absentee Landlordism in a New Form," pp. 27-34. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter II, "Farm Ownership and Land Tenancy," pp. 8-12. Chapter XV, "Agriculture In the Economic Organism," pp. 63-65. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, pp. 6-7.
  13. Catholic Rural Life Objectives Fourth Series: Ryan, Most Rev. Vincent J., "State and Reconstruction," pp. 29-36. First Series: Kenkel, Frederick P "The Ethical and Religious Background of Cooperation," pp. 43-47. Second Series: Michel, Virgil, O.S.B., "The Cooperative Movement and the Liturgical Movement," pp. 13-18. Schmiedeler, Edgar, O.S.B., "A Review of Rural Insecurity" pp. 43-52. Matt Alphonse J., "Economic and Social Justice for the Negro, pp. 61-69. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter XIII, "Farmer Cooperatives," pp. 55-59. Chapter XIV, "Rural Credit" pp. 60-62. Agricultural Handbook for Rural Pastors and Laymen, Howard, pp. 27-38, 69- 88- 91-102; 105-107; 115-122. Catholic Churchmen and Cooperatives. St. Paul to the Galatian Farmers, Most Rev. Joseph H. Schlarman. Rural Life in a Peaceful World, pp. 5; 10-13; 19-20.
  14. Manifesto on Rural Life Chapter VII, "Rural Community," pp. 29-34.
  15. The Land and the Spirit, Most Rev. Peter W. Bartholome. Land and Life for Woman Wickes, Mariette, "The Unfolding of the Christian Seasons," pp. 4-8. Agriculture and the Liturgical Year, Benedict Ehmann.St. Isidore -- Patron of Farmers.

Monday, March 3, 2014

We Killed the Pigs...

I think I told you, but awhile back we got some pigs.  They looked like this:


Now they look like this:

In between was a lot of food (mostly milk product waste from the cows) some blood, squealing (and not just pigs), guns, kids, and a whole lotta life.

I think one of the worst parts about our modern food-to-human situation is the completed disconnect between what we eat and how it got there, where it came from.  There's a lesson that was learned by all of us when we raised up some cute little critters for the main purpose of eating them - they did a little tilling for me too.  We knew it the whole time and they didn't.  Its not cruel, but its not easy either - at least it shouldn't be.  We should feel something.  I'm telling you, "Lamb of God" would mean a lot more to the Jew who spread blood across the front of their house than to us with stuffed animals and guts but no animal blood in our lives.   I read out-loud the following poem with the gun tucked under my arm before we shot it, though that doesn't kill it, and then ran in an cut its throat so that its heart would pump all out the blood before it was dead.  Then we strung it up and skinned and gutted it.  Then we cut it up into all those nice little cuts like at the store.  Then I skinned its head.  Don't like to hear about it?  Well, you need to.  Oh, and Jesus died for you.

For the Hog Killing

Let them stand still for the bullet, and stare the shooter in the eye,
let them die while the sound of the shot is in the air, let them die
as they fall,
let the jugular blood spring hot to the knife, let its freshet be full,
let this day begin again the change of hogs into people, not the
other way around,
for today we celebrate again our lives wedding with the world,
for by our hunger, by this provisioning, we renew the bond. 
© Wendell Berry
Collected Poems, 1957-1982. North Point Press, SanFrancisco, 1985. Originally published in A Part, 1980.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Little Bit of Land

A Little Bit of Land
by Jennie Senrud Hutton

A little bit of land is all I ask.
Just a small place to call my own,
  where I can put down roots, so deep, so deep,
  that great grandchildren still will call it home.
Is it so much to ask?
a lane of trees,
bringing birdsong and colored leaves,
a grape arbor, the roses beyond,
sweet lilacs holding in their arms,
the lawn.
Tulips, and yellow daffodil,
spattered up and down the cellar hill,
sweet gurgling brook, fresh and cool,
the brush beyond sheltering grouse and sage,
and shy sweet deer.
Oh aching heart, hungry hungry soul.
What little bit to make a grateful whole.
Is there no spot in all this universe?
a little valley, with a cabin home,
a bit of garden I could call my own,
I would not bruise the land, or tear it apart,
but keep it beating with a happy blooming heart.
Each bit of soil, which God had surley blessed,
would be a cozy home for seeds to rest,
and grow and nourish, comforting all men,
with fruit and shade, and food for every soul.
A little bit of land to call my own,
within its small confines, a loving home,
and fertile soil
no matter the toil,
I would so grateful be
if God would take a little chance on me
and give me a small plot of lonely sod
that needs a gentle hand, and God.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Liberal Pagan Friends

Its a very interesting occurrence among Catholic farmers - we often are surrounded by those of what could be called "counter-cultural".  Now, almost everyone claims that word, but I'm talking about the real deals - Occupy kind of people.  Now, I'm not endorsing that movement per se, but we as farmers do find ourselves in decidedly liberal, pagan, and eco-concerned crowds that are often derided by our conservative Catholic friends.  Here's a great article on how, I think, that happens:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why I Live on a Farm

(This was a post for another site, but I figured I'd put it here too.)

Instead of describing the philosophical and practical reason I live on a farm first I think it would be more effective to describe a day on the farm and then draw from that my reasons.

The family wakes early before sunrise.  I’m not sure of the time, because there seems to occur naturally a rhythm of life that goes more with the sun than the clock, especially during that man-made absurdity of daylight savings time (as if we can change the amount of hours in the day by massaging the clock).  After warming ourselves for a bit by the fire, my three year old son looks at me.

“Where’s my eggs?” he asks bluntly.  “I’ll go get them son - they’re coming.”

Stepping into my boots, flannel jammies still on, I walk out to the chicken coop, open it up, and nudge the hens off of their eggs and bring them in.  As I scramble them in the butter made from our cow’s milk my wife brews the coffee from fresh ground beans.  After hastily getting everything on the table I try to stop the boys from eating so we can pray as my daughter stumbles out last and sits down after my morning kiss.  Breakfast doesn’t really end, but rather transitions to chores as we finish eggs and coffee (my youngest son of one prefers his black).  I stay the longest at the table, inwardly feeling entitled to it after braving the cold for the eggs in the first place.

From there we assemble the buckets, rags, and such for milking and head to the cows.  They meet us at the stanchion, a wooden feeding area that locks them in place while we milk, still stretching (they sleep in).  The kids wander around the barn and woods looking for adventure and find it occasionally.  During milking my wife and I discuss whatever pops up.  After milking we bring food scraps (slop) and milk byproducts - mostly whey and skimmed milk from making cheese and butter - to the pigs who convert it into bacon for me.  Unlike politicians they have very good second terms (butchering time) because they really trim the pork from the budget.  The pigs are also the garden tillers.  We also check on the growing heifer calf who is currently with the pigs - this is basically petting and letting her lick my sleepy hair, giving me an actual cow-lick.  We had a bull calf too but he’s in the fridge.  I love veal.

Heading back to the house the chickens swarm the kids awaiting their feed.  The youngest, who likes the black coffee, loves to sit right next to the feeder and actually eats the feed with them.  At least its organic.  We then pour and cool the milk.

After farm chores are through I go prepare for my other job which I do from my home office.  We try to sneak in the Angelus with varied success at this point, since the sun is really up now.  This is also when I usually get my morning prayer in, since I often fail to rise before the kids to do it.

After a few hours in the office we eat lunch, which consisted today of farm-raised pig liver pate on sourdough bread with rosemary farmer’s cheese on top, a side of some fermented food and a big glass of uber-fresh milk.  I also really like to have those veal steaks for lunch - they cook really well and fast in the oven.

Then we handle random farm issues - feed ordering, barn roofs, or more recently preparing an old rusty livestock trailer to be able to haul the pigs to slaughter soon.  (We’ve slaughtered all of our meat chickens and turkeys ourselves at this point, but sadly we don’t really have the time or setup for hogs).

I go back into the office for the afternoon work stretch and quit between 4 and 5 so we can eat dinner, clean the kitchen, and prepare for evening chores before it gets too far into the night.  After the kids are prepared for bed, we head off to milk again, check pigs again, then process milk again.  After the kids are asleep we either make some sort of dairy product - milk, cheese, yogurt, whipped cream, sour cream, ice cream, butter, etc. - Or I study for school or get some more work done next to my wife who is reading some sort of geeky food or farm thing.

After the evening time with the wife, I often deliver milk to other folks nearby who we barter with.  Tonight when I got home I was struck by a choral piece that was on the radio as well as the stars which were particularly bright.  At night in the country the hills and forest become black with darkness but the sky is brilliantly illuminated, especially in the winter.  It stops a man in his tracks.  As I sat there I decided to offer up a burnt offering (tobacco) as I sat with our mouser (known as a “cat” in the suburbs).

Why We’re Here

I grew up in the country, but as I was living in my third city since my childhood I was completely disjointed by the writings of many Catholic authors regarding the land - G.K. Chesterton, Romano Guardini, Belloc, Fr. Vincent McNabb, and others.  I was also struck by the example of Kevin Ford over at the New Catholic Land Movement.  Here’s some of the core realities that we get to face on a farm:

  • Visceral Interaction with Nature.  St. Bernard said that before we can read the Book of God in the Bible, we need to read the Book of Nature all around us.  I completely understand the sentiments of pagans that see divinity all around them in the rocks and trees, but how much more glorious it is to know that it is the loving and divine Father of us all that is speaking, not the tree itself.  A farm is a place of natural things - life and death.  When my children hear at Mass that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” they know that that has everything to do with throats being slit so that they can live and nothing to do with Jesus being cute.  
  • Reality.  The Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper wrote beautiful and illuminating books on the virtues (here and here), which we men are called to cultivate within ourselves.   He says that virtue can only be lived in response to reality - virtue is the right response to nature and real things so we must perceive (or receive) those things as they truly are.  In our society today, we are surrounded with un-reality.  On a farm your contact with the real is guaranteed.  There’s no one processing reality and projecting it onto a screen for me.  I see it.  This encounter with real things helps me to adjust my living to conform with reality - the reality God made.  This is very different from the idealist philosophies of society that tell us to generate “ideals” and then try to conform ourselves and the world around us to it - or of the group mentalities and philosophies that spawn from online interaction.  
  • Good Work.  My office job is probably a lot like yours.  Much of it exists in internet “clouds” and is rather intangible.  Work that occurs under actual clouds is good for the soul.  It would be easy to go on at this point on the philosophical reasons why this is good, like the goodness of having a physical connection to the things you produce, but I think most men know this intuitively, even poetically.  If you haven’t experienced that kind of hard physical work out in the fresh air I suggest you find out when your closest farmer is cutting hay next.  Go there and work with him.  After utter exhaustion and with bleeding hands you will thank the Lord for that good work He provided.
  • Lessons in Virtue.  The mother is the inward heart of a home.  As children venture from her they encounter the more outward realm of the father.  The father provides the example of virtue (assuming he has virtue) that gives the children the skills to interact with that world, with reality, rightly.  Throughout history, fathers were very near the home practicing their craft or farming.  Husband, after all, means “house bound”.  The home began deteriorating not when the mothers left the home for work, but when the fathers did during the industrial revolution.  Prior to that he was house bound and was the primary educator of his children in virtue, with a deep connection between what was happening in the home with mama and outside with papa (like my wife cooking something I just harvested).  Now the entire family leaves the home and children are even entrusted mostly to the state for their formation.  The lives of husbands and wives lack the connectedness that a farm cultivates.  This clearly has its problems.  The home is a community, a domestic church, not a hotel for working individuals.
  • Beauty.  Its a beautiful life here, even in the mucking of manure.  There’s a goodness that really and truly shines into our lives here.  It stops me and slows me down often times.  How many of us need more of that?  

We all can’t live on farms.  I know that.  But it seems clear to me that the many men that are feeling the ache to return to the land should do everything they can to do just that.  From Adam the tiller of the land to David the herdsmen to Peter the fishermen to the farming monasteries and tiny agrarian villages that once dotted Christendom - it is on the farm that men have found peace and the joyful working life.  I challenge you today, especially in this time when so many are looking for exercise routines to shake off the office shackles, get out and get your hands in the dirt from which you came.  It’ll be good for your soul.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm just tryin' to get rich...

(I know its been a while.  Instead of excuses, I'll just get some posts up)

St. John Chrysostom on trying to convince a rich man to give up avarice:

But of this it is not easy to persuade a lover concerning the objects of his love. Well then, we must set before him another sort of beauty. But incorporeal beauty he sees not, being yet in his disease. Well then, let us show him some beauty of a corporeal kind, and say to him, Consider the meadows and the flowers therein, which are more sparkling than any gold, and more elegant and transparent than all kinds of precious stones. Consider the limpid streams from their fountains, the rivers which like oil flow noiselessly out of the earth. Ascend to heaven and behold the lustre of the sun, the beauty of the moon, the stars that cluster like flowers. “Why, what is this,” say you, “since we do not, I suppose, make use of them as of wealth?” Nay, we use them mere than wealth, inasmuch as the use thereof is more needful, the enjoyment more secure. For thou hast no fear, lest, like money, any one should take them and go off: but you may be ever confident of having them, and that without anxiety or care. But if thou grieve because thou enjoy-est them in common with others, and dost not possess them alone like money; it is not money, but mere covetousness, which thou seemest to me to be in love with: nor would even the money be an object of thy desire, if it had been placed within reach of all in common.