The two men appeared to share a lighthearted rapport during an exchange of gifts. Francis, an Argentine and the first pontiff from the Southern Hemisphere, gave the president two medallions, including one that symbolized the need for solidarity and peace between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
He also presented Mr. Obama with a copy of “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” the apostolic exhortation that Francis released last November as his call for a new era of evangelization and for a renewed focus on the poor.
Mr. Obama presented Francis with a custom-made seed chest featuring a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden, noting that the box was made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
“If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said. Using a Spanish phrase that can be translated as “Why not?” or “For sure,” Francis quickly responded.
“Cómo no?” he said.
“Healing a Broken World” describes the rationale of establishing the Task Force on Jesuit Mission and Ecology (July November 2010), the general vision that animates its analysis and recommendations, the context of the world, the Church and the Society of Jesus today, the relationship of “reconciliation with creation,” with faith, justice, inter-religious and cultural dialogue, and finally proposes a set of practical recommendations.
our practices of buying food: promote organically grown, local and
seasonal fairly traded food.
especially (but not exclusively) during Lent.
Promotio Iustitiae 106
Editor: Patxi Álvarez SJ
Promotio Iustitiae is published by the Social Justice Secretariat at the General
Curia of the Society of Jesus (Rome) in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Promotio Iustitiae is available electronically on the World Wide Web at the
following address: www.sjweb.info/sjs/PJnew
“There are no Unsacred Places”
A Review of
Cultivating Soil and Soul:
Twentieth-Century Catholic Agrarians
Embrace the Liturgical Movement
by Michael J. Woods, SJ
Reviewed by Ragan Sutterfield.
“Good liturgy and sound agrarianism share a common bond” writes Michael J. Woods, SJ in Cultivating Soil and Soul. Both are sacramental arts—both hold true to the idea that Wendell Berry expressed so well in his poem “How to Be a Poet”:
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Good liturgy helps us name all that is sacred—to incorporate daily life into the holy. The liturgical stance is one that repeats Berry’s poem with different objects: There is no unsacred work, there is only sacred work and desecrated work; there are no unsacred people, there are only sacred people and desecrated people.
It is the good work of the church to continually work to name and acknowledge the sacred—to liberate the desecrated and reveal the once “unsacred.” Of course this is a continuous work that must be begun again and again. There is always a tendency to specialize the sacred, to limit its scope and place by making it the domain of experts and institutions. We must continually question those institutions and invite them again and again to do the work to which they were called—revealing the sacred everywhere it truly is.
It was exactly this sort of work that the Roman Catholic liturgical movement of the early 20th century took up. Following the teaching of Prosper of Aquitaine (ca. fifth century) the liturgical movement followed the maxim “lex orandi lex credendi—the law of prayer grounds the law of belief.” In other words it is the worship of the church that should ground the church’s beliefs and practices. More importantly it points to the idea that how a church worships changes how a church lives.
Cultivating Soil and Soul centers on the ways in which two Roman Catholic priests, Virgil Michael and Edwin O’Hara working in the first half of the twentieth century took many lessons from the liturgical movement and tried to form the life of the rural church to name properly the sacredness in all of their lives. The result was the National Catholic Rural Life Conference—an organization that produced some of the church’s best thinking on living the Christian life in the full abundance of creation.
Long before the new agrarian movement the NCRLC maintained at its first convention in 1923 that “land (especially soil) was ‘the greatest material gift from God’ and possessed a sacramental quality to it. The NCRLC later  declared soil stewardship the ‘11th Commandment.’”
This understanding was born out of the efforts of Michael and O’Hara to honor the sacredness of daily life in rural parishes, and once they had named the sacred it was easy to begin to see the places and ways of desecration that were already spreading in the early part of the 20th Century through industrialization. As Woods writes, “Fr. Edwin O’Hara witnessed firsthand the disintegration that was occurring in the American countryside, especially but not exclusively among Catholics. This compelled him to found the NCRLC in 1923…As a priest he not only cared for the faithful’s religious life but their socioeconomic (agricultural), educational, and cultural life.”
Richard W. Marklin, Jr., Ph.D., CPE
Certified Professional Ergonomist
Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering