“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.
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.
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.“
–From a speech delivered by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, to the delegates at the Convention of the National Confederation of Farm Owner-Operators in Rome.
Holy Mother Church realizes that there is something special about the Faith lived out in rural areas. As such, Rural Life Celebrations are designed to bring together the faithful to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to enjoy the company of the community.
A recent Rural Life Celebration in St. Cloud, Minnesota, had Mass celebrated, followed by a meal of locally-grown food, a band, hayrides, an antique tractor show and a petting zoo. Hundreds of people from the area come to this annual celebration, and people leave it feeling renewed and grace-filled.
Another Rural Life Celebration, held just southwest of Casper, Wyoming, was presided over by CRL president, Bishop Etienne. He writes about the celebration on his blog:
“One of the main goals of these gatherings is to express the Church’s support and admiration for all those who make their living on and from the land. The rural way of life is a natural setting for living faith and raising families in the natural setting of nature which easily keeps alive the truth that all of life is an invitation to know, love and serve God – the Creator of all.”
Catholic Rural Life’s upcoming publication “Rural Life Celebration Guide” will be an invaluable tool for dioceses that want to plan their own celebration of all the goodness rural communities offer.