Bishop Ricken celebrates Rural Life Mass in Crivitz

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | April 3, 2014

Tells farmers to be grateful for their blessings, make God a priority

CRIVITZ — On a day more fitting for snow plowing than seed planting, farm families from northeast Wisconsin gathered at St. Mary Church March 27 to give thanks to God for the gift of land and the ability to grow crops and raise farm animals.

Bishop David Ricken sprinkles holy water on farm tractors as they pass in front of St. Mary Church in Crivitz following the annual Rural Life Day Mass March 27. The observance marks the beginning of the spring farming season and is an opportunity for the local community to give thanks to God for farming and to pray for a successful growing season. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Bishop David Ricken sprinkles holy water on farm tractors as they pass in front of St. Mary Church in Crivitz following the annual Rural Life Day Mass March 27. The observance marks the beginning of the spring farming season and is an opportunity for the local community to give thanks to God for farming and to pray for a successful growing season. To view additional photos, go to our Flickr page. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

About 200 people braved a fresh blanket of snow to attend the annual Rural Life Day Mass celebrated by Bishop David Ricken. A blessing of seeds and soil followed the Mass, along with a procession outside the church, where several animals and farm tractors were blessed by Bishop Ricken. A luncheon in the church hall completed the rural life celebration. Guest speaker Mike Austin, who provides daily agriculture reports for WFRV-TV Channel 5 in Green Bay, led a discussion titled “The Need to Tell our Stories as Farmers and Catholics.”

During his homily, Bishop Ricken said he looks forward to celebrating the Rural Life Day Mass with those “who are taking such good care and stewardship of the land and learning to grow closer to God.”

Bishop Ricken, recalling two uncles in Colorado who were farmers, said farmers can sometimes focus on the negative and forget about all of their blessings.

Bishop David Ricken pets a goat that was brought to St. Mary Church in Crivitz for a blessing of animals following the annual Rural Life Day Mass March 27. The observance marks the beginning of the spring planting season and is an opportunity for the local community to give thanks to God for farming and to pray for a successful growing season. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Bishop David Ricken pets a goat that was brought to St. Mary Church in Crivitz for a blessing of animals following the annual Rural Life Day Mass March 27. The observance marks the beginning of the spring planting season and is an opportunity for the local community to give thanks to God for farming and to pray for a successful growing season. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“A lot of people get down in the dumps … because they are always looking at the wrong thing,” he said. “We need to be reminded of the incredible blessings we have.”

While there are challenges that face farmers, he said, “we cannot let those things separate us from our mission.”

Bishop Ricken provided a two-step solution for helping farmers change their attitude.

“First, start a thanksgiving journal,” he said. “Every night before you go to bed … write down three things that happened that day or three things or people that you’re very grateful for. I guarantee you that if you do that every day for 30 days, your life will change.”

He said those who do this will be transformed into grateful people “and not someone who is always complaining about things.”

The second step is to go to Mass, which he called “the great act of thanksgiving that’s been given to us by God.”

“You and I have the greatest gift ever given to mankind: The gift of Jesus himself; in the word proclaimed every Sunday and the gift of the holy Eucharist, where we eat the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus,” said Bishop Ricken. “Get back to Sunday Mass, that’s the bare minimum for all that God has given us, that’s the least we can do, is be here with our mind and  heart and our soul.”

Bishop Ricken cautioned farmers to avoid taking for granted their abundant harvests.

“Make sure you give thanks to the creator for all these things,” he said, just as St. Isidore, the patron saint of farmers, did.

Bishop Ricken concluded his homily by reminding farmers to let every stage of their lives be sanctified by gratitude.

“Don’t be so blinded by your blessings that you don’t even come to Mass. Don’t be so blinded by your blessings that you forget who is the provider of all these blessings you have,” he said. “Don’t be so blinded by your blessings that you leave God the crumbs of your life instead of giving him the substance of your table. Give God the very first fruits, the best fruits of your life’s work and more blessings will follow … and even more blessings will follow that, especially as you share them with others.”

A second Rural Life Day Mass was celebrated March 26 by Bishop Robert Morneau at St. Edward Church in Mackville.

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