Friday, January 9, 2015

Returning to the Earth

This year is the International Year of Soils and the Catholic Times gave the topic a full page coverage showing the Church's teaching on the subject.  Ecology and poverty, the continual possibility of development and the food supply all depend on the earth. Solving the problems and showing concern for the earth are the reasons for the  proclamation of the Year of Soils.

Economic development and the accompanying slogans have helped to damage and destroy a great deal of our environment, The words from Scripture: Genesis 1:28,were not understood to take care of the earth, but misunderstood to mean subjugate. "This universality and, at the same time, this multiplicity of the process of 'subduing the earth' throw light upon human work, because man's dominion over the earth is achieved in and by means of work. There thus emerges the meaning of work in an objective sense, which finds expression in the various epochs of culture and civilization. Man dominates the earth by the very fact of domesticating animals, rearing them and obtaining from them the food and clothing he needs, and by the fact of being able to extract various natural resources from the earth and the seas" (Laborem Exercens #5).The effort to domesticate the earth is the origin for private property.

Pope Paul VI in Progress of Peoples: "Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: "You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich."  These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional" Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus (#23).

In another article on the same page we hear about a priest who thinks highly of farming life. We have all come from the earth and we will all return to the earth. We have forgotten the importance of the earth on which we live. We do not need the Scriptures, he says, to teach us this very important lesson. Sadly in our economic system we see all values with a monetary measurement, land is object of barter and investment;  those that see it as a home for humans and an object to preserve are few.

As a city pastor he wanted to have the parish children get to feel and interact with the earth. A large plot of land was donated to the parish in the country and under the direction of the priest each week during the the farming season on Mondays and Tuesdays they make the trip from the city to their country farm. The farming is done in the primitive way following the ways of their ancestors.

He advocates that all the parishioners prepare one meal each day with their own hands. He hopes they will use their verandas and those with weekend plots of land to work to prepare this one meal. The future is going to be a time when we will be closer to the land than we are are now, he  believes, and he is preparing his parishioners for the day with the excursions to the county side. Since we have come from the earth he wants us to return to the earth for he feels this is what the future is calling us to do.                      

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