At Seedtime: Celebrating a Day of Prayer

With their video as a backdrop, Mrs. Rachel Hall and students Ryesen Stiens, Ryle Nierthaler, Halle Buck and Kennedy Kurz stand, proud of their contribution to the Day of Prayer: At Seedtime. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

… a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, of olive trees and of honey, a land where you will always have bread and where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones contain iron and in whose hills you can mine copper. But when you have eaten and are satisfied, you must bless the Lord, your God, for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:8-10)

In the past, the Church marked certain times each year with days of prayer and fasting. They were known as Ember Days and Rogation Days. Ember Days occurred for three days at the start of each season. In the spring, they included prayers for the Blessing of Seeds at Planting Time, as well as prayers for the Blessing of Fields and Gardens. Traditionally, farmers seek God’s blessing on their land and crops as planting begins.

Whether or not we live in rural communities, we may wish to ask God’s protection for seeds (or young plants) in our fields and gardens, especially during Lent. Seeds represent a microcosm of all life. By our prayer, we acknowledge God’s control over creation and our stewardship of it. The Church’s General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar state: “On Rogation and Ember Days the Church is accustomed to entreat the Lord for the various needs of humanity, especially for the fruits of the earth and for human labor… {45}.”

Dioceses all over the country are free to establish their own supplementary days of prayer. This is one of several for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which has designated March 16 as a Diocesan Day of Prayer: At Seedtime.

As part of the celebration, students of St. Gregory Barbarigo School in Maryville made a video designed to show students not living in rural communities how crops are planted, grown and harvested, and the pride farmers feel in feeding the nation.

At the request of the Diocesan school office, the St. Gregory student ambassador officers, and their faculty representative began meeting shortly after this semester began to decide on the format and the style of the video. It took a while, mainly because of successive snow days, but now the video is complete. It will be shown at schools across the diocese near March 16. 

The students, sixth grader Ryesen Stiens (historian); and eighth graders Ryle Nierthaler (president), Kennedy Kurz (secretary) and Halle Buck (vice-president), along with Faculty rep Rachel Hall, recalled how the video was made. Halle said they collected emailed photographs from the student body and through the Google Drive program, organized and made a slide presentation from the photos then dropped the slides in. Mrs. Hall searched the Bible for appropriate verses for the beginning and end of the video and found Deuteronomy 8: 8-10 to be perfect. The last thing to do was to set the video to music. The four girls and Mrs. Hall were pleased with result of their work.

The crops grown around Maryville are mostly corn and soybeans and planting and harvesting those crops are the basis of the short video. Ryesen said she was amazed “It was done so quickly!” Ryle agreed, adding, “Wow, we did this! We grew up with farms and crops around us and never thought that other kids didn’t know the lifestyle.” Halle and Kennedy said much the same thing. All four said they were glad they could be part of the effort and their faith was inspired through “helping others understand why farmers do what they do.”

Resources below offer scripture, prayers, and song suggestions. Parish groups and households are encouraged to use them. A Blessing Service is taken from those.

• Book of Blessings (full & abridged editions); Catholic Book Publishing Co.
Order for the Blessing of Seeds at Planting Time
• Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers; U.S. Catholic Bishops (orig. & rev. ed.) Rogations Days: Blessing of Fields and Gardens
Assumption Day: Blessing of Produce
• Laudato Si’; Pope Francis #246 A prayer for our earth
A Christian prayer in union with creation
• Roman Missal; Mass for Various Needs and Occasions, #27 At Seedtime
• At Seedtime: Blessing of Seeds and Fields at Planting Time

Introduction
Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Let us praise God, who plants the seeds and reaps the harvest. Blessed be God for ever.
R. Blessed be God for ever.
Leader: Today we seek God’s blessing of these seeds and the crops they will produce. Christ reminds us that, unless the seed is planted in the earth and dies, it will not yield fruit. As these seeds grow and are cared for, may they be signs of the new life from God.

Scripture Reading
(suggestions)
Genesis 2:1-9, 15-17, Genesis 1:1-12, 29-31, Deuteronomy 28:1-6, Isaiah 55:10-13, Joel 2:21-26, 2 Corinthians 9: 6-10, Matthew 13:31-36, Mark 4:26-29, Luke 12:16-21, John 12:23-25.

Intercessions
Almighty God look with benign providence on your children; give us nourishment and growth by blessing the earth with the fruitfulness that sustains human life. As your children, we pray to you by saying: Lord, hear our prayer.

  • You bless the earth and abundance flows in its pastures; grant that by your blessing, our fields may yield the food we need. R.
  • You make the wheat grow that provides our daily bread and the gift of the eucharist; give us a crop made rich by abundant rain and fertile soil. R.
  • You feed the birds of the air and clothe the lilies of the field; teach us not to worry about what we are to eat or drink or wear, but to seek first your way of holiness. R.
  • You have told us that Christ is the vine and we are branches; grant that by living in your Son we may produce much good fruit. R.

Conclusion
O God, from the very beginning of time you commanded the earth to bring forth vegetation and fruit of every kind. You provide the sower with seed and give bread to eat. Grant, we pray, that this land, enriched by your bounty and cultivated by human hands, may be fertile with abundant crops. Then your people, enriched by the gifts of your goodness, will praise you unceasingly now and for ages unending. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Closing Song suggestions
A. (Sung to the tune of “All Creatures of our God and King”)
Dear mother earth, who day by day, The fruits and flowers that verdant grow, Unfolds rich blessing on our way, Let them his praise abundant show. O praise God! Alleluia! O praise God, O praise God, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. (St. Francis of Assisi)

B. (sung to the tune of AR HYD NOS [“All Through the Night”])
For the fruits of this creation, In the just reward of labor, Thanks be to God; God’s will is done; For the gifts to ev’ry nation, In the help we give our neighbor, Thanks be to God; God’s will is done; For the plowing, sowing, reaping, In our worldwide task of caring Silent growth while we are sleeping, For the hungry and despairing, Future needs in earth’s safe keeping, In the harvests we are sharing Thanks be to God. God’s will is done; (F. Pratt Green).

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Wednesday
March 20, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph