The ideas and thoughts surrounding the Catholic Homestead seem to have experienced a certain resurgence in interest. It is evident that there are traces of such movements throughout history, even if not always successful in their execution. Various papal encyclicals are often pointed to as groundwork for the thought process regarding such interest and movements. The emergence of such interest, however, seems relatively novel to some, and possibly strange to others. For it is not unreasonable for someone to consider, “Haven’t we advanced past such times?”
It seems as if much of the interest in Catholic Homesteading is driven by similar motivations that produce passions related to the development of homesteads – self-sufficiency in times of economic strife, increasingly localized means of sustenance, community within close geographical proximity and etcetera. A review of the present political, social and economic landscape presents many people with distress – or potentially from a more balanced perspective, an opportunity.
I presume that much of the interest in homesteading is in part due to a strong reaction against an environment that is devoid of the values humans are inherently drawn towards. For the Catholic, this includes a yearning for God and for a life that, when properly ordered, seeks Eternal Salvation.
Homesteading affords an opportunity to engage in meaningful activity. It is apparent that in a society where abundance is everywhere and the absence of true “needs” is often a thought reserved only for those who live in “other” communities, that a void occurs between the work one does and the satisfaction one recognizes in the accomplishment of those tasks. This is not a universal experience, but for many, is recognized slowly through repetitive workplace tasks, unfulfilling hobbies, and more. The homestead recalls the connection between manual labor, often assisted by technology still, and the production of goods that support bodily sustenance.
And more – the engagement of such work seems to open a space for mental prayer, thought and consideration, as well as communal experience, that affords meaningful experience. The opposite would be a consideration of time having been “wasted” away completing tasks devoid of meaning.
The Catholic Homestead then, is the engagement of homesteading practices, often of a manual and agrarian leaning, that afford actual productivity of goods and services, even if the goods and services can be procured with less engagement and more efficiently. The Catholic Homestead does not seek to rush through life but to cultivate within one’s life an active interior and exterior disposition of holy virtue. The Catholic Homestead serves to foster an environment of prayer, productive work, skill mastery that is honorable and employable, and family that is rooted in the Catholic Faith.
The homestead does not guarantee anyone a greater spiritual disposition and development than another. However, the Catholic Homestead is an intentional and deliberate movement of the will to more deeply engage one’s life in work that should help to move that person closer to God and into submission of God’s Will.