Once not so long ago, this coming Wednesday (Sept. 21) would be marked as a day of fasting and abstinence. So would Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24. The church marks these three days as the fall Ember Days.
In yesterday's blog I stated: As Catholic Christians, we are called to read the signs of the times and make, if necessary, a counter-cultural witness. It is the urban poor who have the least access to fresh and organic food. It is the poor who suffer the most from diet-based degenerative diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
In the United States the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) has been a fierce advocate for the rights of the small farmer and a more just food system. I have been active for a number of years with the Michigan Catholic Rural Life Coalition. The NCRLC has wonderful material for small faith sharing groups on the church's teaching on food and faith and sustainable living.
Beyond study, parishes are called to be living witnesses of the Gospel in our local communities. As I have discovered, during my years I served as pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Wyandotte, Mich., models abound that can enhance our witness of a more just and sustainable world through the promotion of local and organic methods of food production:
One need not have read The Omnivore's Dilemma or have seen the movie "Food, Inc." to know that something is seriously out of kilter with the American food system. With the dominance of agri-business, the quaint image of the family farmer with cows out in the pasture who is growing a cornucopia of crop varieties has, in recent years, become something of an anachronism.
Rather, with the rise of agri-business our food production system has several disturbing characteristics:
Historians John O’Malley, SJ, of Georgetown University, and Mordechai Feingold, of the California Institute of Technology, will speak tomorrow, Sept. 14, at Georgetown University, during the first of Woodstock Theological Center’s three discussions titled “Georgetown, Jesuits, and the Sciences.”
Here is the press release:
Dr. Seuss , beloved children’s author, penned The Lorax over 40 years ago, soon after the first Earth day, but its theme of ecological ruin, greed, and implied regeneration of the Earth is as timely as ever.
The story relates the tragic account of a character called Once-ler, who discovered a land “where the grass was still green, and the pond was still wet, and the clouds were still clean and the brightly colored Truffula Trees swayed mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”
Just imagine it. Someday soon, you sidle up to your favorite, old-fashioned burger joint -- one of those that still cooks everything in-house -- and order yourself a big, juicy burger.
You take the first bite, enjoying the hints of charcoal and the flavor of grease. In a moment of introspection, you think to yourself, 'Where did this cow come from? What kind of life did it have?'
Answer: It didn't. There was no cow involved at all in that slab of meat entering your digestive system.
It's a future that isn't too far away. Mother Jones magazine's Blue Marble blog has a post today about a possible coming revolution in laboratory-grown meat products.
From the post:
Job Ebenezer, a retired engineer living in Columbus, Ohio, has words of empowerment and comfort for folks who worry about famines, food shortages and overpopulation.
Recycle those worries.
Begin growing vegetables.
Lots of them.
Grow them in kiddie wading pools, plastic grocery bags, and milk containers. See them thriving in abandoned playground sites, apartment rooftops, unused portions of parking lots, balconies and even on concrete sidewalks.
When people ask Mary Faulkner about her religious practice, she says, “I tell them I’m a Canaanite. They look at me kind of funny at first, but most of the time, they figure it has something to do with the indigenous people of the Middle East.”
Canaanites were the ancient people of Israel who worshipped the Mother Goddess Ashera for thousands of years before a Father God emerged. (When that happened, Ahera became known as “the lost bride of Yahweh.”)
“I would root myself in that tradition,” states Faulkner, a psychotherapist who said she stopped identifying as a practicing Catholic many years ago because of the women’s ordination issue. “I decided they’d just have to get along without me,” she said cheerfully during a recent phone conversation from her Nashville, Tennessee home.
The topic of our interview was her third and latest book, Women’s Spirituality: Power and Grace.
Read the full story at the Catholic Voice of the Omaha archdiocese about Fr. Wayne Pavela and his 8 acre garden, where he harvests produce for the needy in the archdiocese.
Seeds, a garden rake and eight acres.
Those are Father Wayne Pavela's building blocks each year as he grows bushels of fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, grapes and apples - and then gives it all away to the needy of the archdiocese.
"He brings us quite a bit," said Patsy Konecky, store manager of food pantry and secondhand store the Simon House in Columbus, which is affiliated with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. "He's brought me radishes and garden lettuce. He's a very generous man."
Energy Audits and Portfolio Management
For a number of years, when a congregation joined Michigan Interfaith Power & Light (MiIPL), we provided an energy assessment of their facility conducted by a professional. The congregation now had a baseline that indicated how well their facility was performing in its energy use compared to other buildings from a similar climate and similar use.
We would provide both the report and an evening of energy education to the congregational staff and members that shared where their “low-hanging fruit” lies.
MiIPL and other IPLs across the country have partnered with EPA’s ENERGY STAR® for Congregations program [www.energystar.gov/congregations] in making ENERGY STAR’s Workbook for Congregations available to members. There is a wonderful manual at the ENERGY STAR for Congregations website, Putting Energy Into Stewardship, that is invaluable for congregations who are committed to lowering their use of fossil fuel energy.