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Blessing of the Seeds and Soil offers a reminder that

‘It’s all a gift’

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register

Surrounded by dozens of Larned Catholics, Father Bernard Felix, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, looked down across several small bags filled with rich soil, as well as dozens of packets of seeds, and raising his arm, he offered a special blessing.
In this farm rich country, when the livelihood of dozens of local family farmers depends upon the mood of Mother Nature, the blessing, which took place May 16, the day after the Feast of St. Isidore the farmer, is especially apropos.
“We are so rural, and every aspect of our lives is tied around the land: food, water -- all those gifts that sustain life,” said farm advocate Tom Giessel, a Larned resident who has organized the annual event off and on for several years. “Activities like this help us come together as a church community and understand the sacredness of these gifts and what has been entrusted to us.” Giessel fills the bags with soil that he gathers from his own land, and provides the packets of vegetable and flower seeds that he purchases from a local hardware store.
Following the blessing, the seeds and soil were dispersed to parishioners to take home, where they could plant the seeds and sprinkle the blessed soil on their property.
Giessel said that the blessing is designed to remind people of the great gift of the land, of the farmers who work it, and of the importance that it not be taken for granted.
“Two or three generations back,” Giessel said, “a lot of people came to this part of the world and found  the ability to make a living, to feed themselves, raise a family and create all these new communities by virtue of the fact that we had access to all of these God-given resources.”
Today, Giessel said, “We import virtually all of our food. If you go to a grocery store in any town, look at how much is raised locally. Very few things that are sold retail are grown locally. Everyone needs to be educated about where their food comes from.”
He said that with the ability for virtually anyone to access “all the food in the world” at a nearby grocery store or supermarket, it’s important that people “try to reconnect with the idea of local foods and how important they are.”
By placing renewed value on locally grown foods, the source of that food – soil and rain, as well as the steward of that land – also regains its due respect and value.
“We all have a lot to learn and we all have so much to be thankful for, and I believe that’s the sole propose of these small acts, like the blessing of the seeds and soil,” Giessel said. “It brings back to the realization that it’s all a gift.”
He said that as Catholics residing in an agricultural region, “our job isn’t just to raise food and take care of the Earth, it’s to create a future so that someone else can enjoy and share in the gifts we have right before our very eyes.”

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