Mention of the "three Rs" was common in education for a long time, but there are also three Rs for farmers, Green Bay Catholic diocese Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau told his audience at the 2014 Rural Life Day Mass at St. Edward Parish.
Reverence, responsibility and reciprocity are the three Rs that apply to farm life, Morneau said. He became directly acquainted with them as a youngster after his parents purchased a 120-acre dairy farm in 1945 near Bear Creek in northwestern Outagamie County, which is an area best known for its cabbage crops and production of sauerkraut.
Reverence pertains to the use and treatment of land and animals and relations with other people, Morneau said. Anyone who observes carefully will notice that "the earth is crammed with heaven."
Responsibility means "taking care of what God has given us," he said. This applies not only to the stewardship of natural resources but also to personal and family life. He quoted a poem that described the evoking of spirit and soul as the wind blows through a garden.
Reciprocity is rooted in the mutual exchange or give-and-take as farmers invest time and energy in using the gifts they receive from God and then give thanksgiving for them, Morneau explained.
"Every way of life has its secrets," he said. Whatever the calling, he said that being proactive, having the end in mind, writing down experiences, being true to oneself, helping others, treating friendship as a fine art and giving thanks ought to be observed in all cases.
Those points were echoed throughout the Mass with the selection of hymns and readings. The day's song titles included "For the Beauty of the Earth," "Seed Scattered and Sown," "Gift of Finest Wheat" and "Canticle of the Sun," while the readings addressed the Biblical description of the creation of trees and plants; the parable of the sower and the seed; and the giving of thanks for abundant harvests.
Related activities were the praying of the litany of St. Isidore, who is the patron saint of farmers, and prayers for and the blessing of packages of seeds and soil brought by Mass attendees; farm machinery; and animals. Host parish members brought five tractors and a few dairy cattle to receive those blessings directly.
They also gave thanksgiving at the luncheon that followed, where 28 attendance prizes were awarded. Many of the packets contained cheese and seeds. Ten boxes of a variety of cheeses were donated by the nearby Simon's Specialty Cheese plant that is owned by the Agropur cooperative, which is based in Canada.
A similar event was held the following day at St. Mary's Parish in Crivitz, where Green Bay diocese Bishop David Ricken presided.