HERE] for guidelines for a harvest festival.
still remember harvest time?
Every year when
I was growing up—about the time of the Solemnity of the Assumption—our minds
turned to two events: the harvest and our inevitable return to school. We may
have been eating garden-fresh vegetables all summer long, but now it was time
to gather all the farm crops, especially the big ones—corn, wheat, barley, and
of course hay to support the dairy herds all winter long.
Most of us
today do our harvesting at supermarkets. But back then, the harvest was an
annual milestone event. While the smell of new-mown hay was still in the air,
it was time to say “so long” to summer and head back to school. Shortly after
the start of school in our parish, the harvest and the school met in the only
event that softened the back-to-school blow: the parish fall festival.
was a county fair in miniature. There were food booths, craft booths,
white-elephant sales, activities, music, and games. (My favorite was the
fishpond where, for ten cents, you could cast a line over a curtain. On the
other side of the curtain, some teen volunteer would attach a donated toy or
game or perhaps a cap or a pair of mittens.) Everything was homespun and
festival was (of course) a fundraising event. It was, however, also a time for
building a Eucharistic community. The festival was a team effort on the part of
all the parish clubs and organizations that produced great fellowship—as well
as great barbecue, cider, cakes, cookies, and pies! The parish harvest festival
took many laborers.
As we get
back into the swing of things, and our parish catechetical programs get into
gear, it might be a good idea to spend a little time on the harvest metaphor.
The Gospel gives us a source for the reflection:
around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming
the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sign of
the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled
and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The
harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest’” (Matthew 9:35-38).
urging his followers to ask for harvest workers is most often used as a prayer
for vocations to the priesthood or to religious life, and surely it is just
that. However, I would like to expand on it a bit. By our Baptism and our
participation in the Eucharist, we all share a harvest responsibility. We are
all answers to the storied request to
the Master of the Harvest.
element in all catechesis is the call to discipleship. Disciples do indeed
follow the master, but disciples are not consumers of the gospel or observers
at the Sunday Assembly. Rather, disciples bring their considerable gifts to the
service of the reign of God. Disciples go out into the abundant harvest as
laborers—as members who want to bring into the community the poor, the
disenfranchised, the discouraged, the fearful, the estranged, and all those
searching for love and fellowship.
presence of the abundant harvest, there need never be a dearth of field hands because
your catechetical ministry summons laborers into the harvest. There are some
sizable crops out there and, with your help, there should be many hands raised
and voices calling: “Here I am! Send me!”
celebration” provided here (click on HARVEST CELEBRATION above) will help you
put on a simple harvest festival—one that celebrates the many gifts of the
community and calls the members of your community to respond to the Master of
My IN THE SEEING blog site at mynsvc.net has been on summer vacation,
but I invite you to join me again after Labor Day.
Schippe has been in Catholic publishing for well over 40 years and currently
serves as President and Publisher for the Peter Li Education Group. E-mail
Cullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.