Tag Archives: agriculture

Restoring the Earth – Apostolic Farming

One of  my loves is agriculture. Not many would have guessed it. This love has its roots in several places: family, church and the love of food and good health. Catholics and Orthodox Christians have a very long interest in being good stewards of land and water, animals, fish, fowl and agriculture. How we treat these things indicates how we think about ourselves. Neglect and abuse of the land ends badly for everybody. One of the things that I have keenly learned is that too many of have become so disconnected from the land and unconcerned with the quality of our food, the dignity of hard work and the recognition of what we have is given to us as a gift from God.

Benedict XVI reminded us in Caritas in Veritate:

It is necessary, then, to point in a truly unified way to a new balance between agriculture, industry and services, so that development be sustainable, and no one go without bread and work, and so that air and water and the other primary resources be preserved as universal goods (No. 27).

We need to look at some thinking and experience of farming that only begins to put some things together to as to understand work of faith and ecology. Let me propose “Restoring the Earth” some guiding ideas  from Madonna House. We can also call it what Catherine Doherty called, Apostolic Farming.

Just as Pope John Paul gave us a superb theology of the body, we now need to connect that theology with a renewed and robust theology of creation. Many forget that we actually have a theology of creation! This proposal is one that needs to be echoed loudly that shows that farms and farmers incarnate in a particular way God in the world. And because of this fact, we need to be good stewards of the land because God gave us the land and natural resources. Farmers have a vocation  that really mirrors the Order of Deacon: a way to serve and feed others.

Ag responsibilities increase

    In the past week my agricultural responsibilities have increased: 6 bee hives (that’s lots of honey bees) and a Yorkshire pig. Actually, a friend and I got pigs –he got 3. That’s on top of 7 cows and 200+ chickens. More on the bees later.

The Pope and his farm

COWS SEEN ON PAPAL FARM AT CASTEL GANDOLFOThis a bit of old news: the pope has a 55 acre farm, he is concerned about the environment, what and how we eat and supports Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Why? Because he knows the supreme value of living off the land, attending to God’s creation, how much of the world lives today. Plus, the Pope needs to be aware of the assault creation faces with the use of chemicals and exploitative farming and human practices.

His farm at Castel Gandolfo –the papal summer residence 15 miles south of Rome– is a working farm with cows, 8 bee hives, vegetables, an olive grove and more. At this same farm is a working Observatory where serious astrophysics takes place, but that is another story. Not only does the daily papal menu contain fresh vegetables and meets, the produce is sold at the Vatican store making about $330K per annum. Amazing? No, not really. We are used to seeing the regal side of the papacy with rich religious and civil ceremonies and only now we are more aware of the active charitable side that has been a part of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome for a very long time.  In this instance, Pope Pius XI established the farm in 1929.

A well-maintained farm is a well-maintained person and environment. We need, I believe, to renew our efforts in understanding the rhythms of the land so that we understand ourselves and in doing so understand ourselves as collaborators with God in building up His Kingdom on earth.

Jason Best has an article, “The Vatican Has a Farm, and Pope Francis is Going to Open it Up to the Public.” There are other stories about the farm from some news agencies: “A Visit to the Vatican Farm,” “How Cow!” and “The pope’s land of milk and honey.”

Would you be interested in issues pertaining to food justice? Read this article.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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