You can’t buy happiness,
but you can buy dirt.
Find you a few things
that you can put a fence around.
Do what you love but call it work and throw a little money in the plate at church.

You can’t buy happiness,
but you can buy dirt.

–“Buy Dirt,” Luke Bryan

Farming used to be a way of life and a school of virtue for society.  Pope Pius XII once said that “the moral recovery of a nation depends on the steadfast faith and social integrity of the tillers of the soil.”

I serve in a rural diocese, a region where families don’t need to be farmers cultivate (pardon the pun) an appreciation for rural values, small-town spirit and the satisfaction that comes from hard work in the hot sun. In our communities, lots of non-farm kids join 4-H and participate in stock shows. High school students are encouraged to pursue careers in agriculture, not just finance, health care or business management.

Catholic Social Teaching heaps lots of praise on rural living and how its web of life contributes to the spiritual and economic well-being of society. As a priest, it is a deep blessing to serve in a diocese where personal integrity is honored and family life remains a high priority.

A young fellow whom I’ll call Josh is a good example of the prevalence of a rural mindset in this region. Josh, who is African-American, grew up in a nearby city but now works as a full-time cowboy. He and his fiancé plan to buy a small piece of land someday where he intends to train horses, she can grow a garden and, together, they’ll raise a family close to the soil and close to God.

I told him that families like his will save the world.  He looked surprised, thought for a moment, then smiled. I slapped him on the shoulder and reminded him that Jesus compared heaven to a treasure buried in a field.
“Go buy that field,” I said. “Get yourself some dirt.”

03 / 23 / 2022
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