Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rural Life Day

Today is celebrated as Rural Life Day in the Diocese of La Crosse. It is being celebrated Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday as the "Ember Days" in my parishes of Holy Family (Arcadia) and St. Boniface (Waumandee). The Ember Days were traditionally celebrated the Wednesday, Friday, Saturday at the beginning of four agricultural seasons with prayer and fasting. In the case of the fall harvest, the Ember Days traditionally fall after the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14) and celebrate, in thanksgiving, the bountiful harvest as a gift from God. Unfortunately, the Wed, Fri, Sat following that feast included some pretty great memorials. And so, since the diocese was celebrating Rural Life Day today, I used my pastoral prerogative to move the celebration of the Ember Days to this week.

I think that it has become even more important to celebrate the Ember Days in our contemporary society. The celebration of the Ember Days reminds us that even after all of the work we may have done to help things along, in the end we are stewards of what God has given us. Thus, we recognize that all good things are indeed a gift from God.

We also recognize that these good things are given to us by God, not for our own selfish use, but for the building up of His kingdom. This is not the case of a despot deity using us to support His own liberality towards man. Well, maybe our work does support His liberality but it also reveals to us what true love is, that is, "that one would lay down his life for a friend".
We have been given much. And from those who have been given much, much is expected. (cf. Luke 12:48). And in using well the gifts we have been given we become the stewards God envisioned when He first set Adam in the garden. (cf. Genesis 2:15 ff) That is the response of gratitude from those who understand that what they have received is ultimately from God.

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