It’s Harvest Fast Day on Friday 6th October, and at harvest, we share God’s abundance with our neighbours. ‘We plant the seeds that one day will grow’. These words are from a prayer that remembers Blessed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador who was brutally murdered because he tried to help the poorest people in his country.
In El Salvador where Oscar Romero was Archbishop, the words from the prayer mean so much. This is traditionally a country that lives from the land; many families depend on their harvest. Edelmira, a farmer in El Salvador, literally “plants seeds” trusting that “they will grow”; come harvest time, they bring fruit that she sells to support her family. From that harvest, she gathers an abundance of fresh seeds to sow the next spring. This is the natural abundance of God’s earth: one seed yields many.
One harvest produces the next sowing in the spring; and the next harvest. Any gardener, or farmer, knows this instinctively: that nature is abundant, as God’s love is abundant. But in El Salvador in recent years, farmers have bought foreign, hybrid seeds because they were told they will get a much bigger harvest for their hard work. Slowly, these commercial seeds have become widely used, supplanting stronger, native El Salvadoran seeds. Some farmers say they might get a good first harvest, but the seeds they keep from the crop won’t grow a good second or third. So they have to keep buying these commercial seeds, instead of gathering their own seeds from their own harvest.
Other farmers tell us that they’ve watched their crop rot on the stalk because the seed hasn’t spent generations adapting to the heavy rains in their region. Imagine watching your crop, the fruit of your hard work, rotting in the fields because of strong rains, a pest, or a crop disease. Imagine the feeling of powerlessness, the anxiety of wondering how you will feed your family now. But, in communities like Edelmira’s, CAFOD’s local partners have given farmers native seeds, which are well adapted to the area’s climate and threats, and yield strong, fertile seeds at harvest. The strong, local seeds are restoring nature’s abundance to these farmers lives. So, now Edelmira can plant seeds that will grow, and bear fruit, and sustain her and her family.
With your help, this work can continue and be expanded. Your Fast Day gifts mean Edelmira’s hard work can bear fruit now for her family and for the future. The income from the crop will produce more and enable her to buy food and essentials such as medicine. That’s why CAFOD is inviting you today to sow more seeds: to give what you can.
But “planting seeds that one day will grow” is not just about seeds; it’s about love and an investment of love. It is about nurturing. It is about care. This is what we are about. Edelmira’s care and nurture and love for her crop. Blessed Oscar Romero regularly preached how God wants a society where we share the good things that God has given for all of us. Archbishop Romero also pleaded for us not to tire of preaching love; as love is the force that will overcome the world. Love is to think of other people’s interests before our own, just as Oscar Romero did, giving up his life for others.
So let us open our hearts, to God, and to others. You can donate by using one of the Harvest Fast Day Collection envelopes at the back of the Cathedral. (Please remember to Gift-aid your offering) or by sending it to CAFOD, Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JB.
Thank you for your acts of care and love. Whatever you choose to give will make a huge difference. On behalf of Edelmira, her family and everyone at CAFOD, thank you all for your time, and above all, please keep them in your prayers.