National Catholic Rural Life Bulletin

Preparing for the Season of Lent
 
The lifeless plants and the seeds in the ground seem dry and dead, but with the combined wonders of rain and sun, and the powers of the earth, they rise from their death-like sleep and grow green and beautiful in our fields. So also we prepare to draw closer to our Lord and celebrate his rising from the dead. During this Lenten season, we emerge from the dark days of winter and see the fields filling with new life, and are everywhere reminded of our Savior.
 
We extend an invitation from Catholic Relief Services to join them on a spiritual journey with  Operation Rice Bowl this Lent. This is an opportunity to put our Christian faith into action and to help our brothers and sisters in need around the world. Operation Rice Bowl provides an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need through simple and significant actions.
 
With Ash Wednesday just a week away, there is little time to order free 2011 materials from CRS. Call them at 1-800-222-0025 or clicking here to complete an order form online.

NCRL

 

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Preparing for the Season of Lent

Online Services for Prayers and Reflections during Lent

NCRLC joins with Oxfam to recognizes women farmers world-wide

Tell Your Senators: Don’t Balance the Budget on Backs of Poor People

Rural School Innovations webinar series

Now Available at USDA: Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America

Blessed are they who fear the Lord

Preparing for the Season of Lent
 
The lifeless plants and the seeds in the ground seem dry and dead, but with the combined wonders of rain and sun, and the powers of the earth, they rise from their death-like sleep and grow green and beautiful in our fields. So also we prepare to draw closer to our Lord and celebrate his rising from the dead. During this Lenten season, we emerge from the dark days of winter and see the fields filling with new life, and are everywhere reminded of our Savior.
 
We extend an invitation from Catholic Relief Services to join them on a spiritual journey with  Operation Rice Bowl this Lent. This is an opportunity to put our Christian faith into action and to help our brothers and sisters in need around the world. Operation Rice Bowl provides an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need through simple and significant actions.
 
With Ash Wednesday just a week away, there is little time to order free 2011 materials from CRS. Call them at 1-800-222-0025 or clicking here to complete an order form online.

 

Online Services for Prayers and Reflections during Lent
 
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the readings of Lent make God’s call to us clear: Return to me with your whole heart. “A clean heart create for me, O God,” Psalm 51 offers. “Give me back the joy of your salvation.” That is exactly what our loving God wants to give us, the joy of salvation.
 
As we passed along to our network in years past, we invite you to utilize the Lent resources created by Creighton University Online Ministries. Each day, they share prayers and reflections for that day’s liturgy. Each daily prayer concludes with a spontaneous prayer they composed, as an example of the type of prayer each of us might pray, in our own words, during the season of Lent.
 
We also favor the reflections to be posted by the Center for Action and Contemplation. This year their Lenten series is entitled “Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift”. Their intention is to recognize and honor the Creator’s provision through soil, animals, humans, the cycles of the seasons and the ancient communal dance of sowing, growing, gathering and nourishing our lives by food. NCRLC will contribute to this series through our Ethics of Eating initiative and show how our choices matter.
 
Our readers might also be interested in reviewing the Center’s 2010 Lenten series in which they invited participants to wade deep into the waters of concern about the global ecological crisis. As our NCRLC members and network well know, this concern has serious moral implications for followers of Christ. View their 2010 Lenten series by clicking here.

 

NCRLC joins with Oxfam America to recognize women farmers world-wide
 
This week, NCRLC is joining with Oxfam America and others to host interactive meals and discuss concerns of food security. Our executive director, Jim Ennis, will participate in an event taking place on Friday evening, March 4, at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center, 1890 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, Minn. This event — free and open to the public — runs from 6-8 pm. Please RSVP to Jim French at 620-200-0260, jfrench@oxfamamerica.org
 
Visit the Oxfam America website for other “Hunger Banquet” events taking place around the country. They are marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day — March 8 — as a global day of recognition celebrating the role of women as the primary caretakers of their families and the land. In many countries, women grow 75% of the food their families eat; women are on the front lines of the fight to end hunger and preserve the environment.

Tell Your Senators: Don’t Balance the Budget on Backs of Poor People
 
NCRLC and USCCB continue to urge everyone to help preserve poverty-focused domestic and international assistance in the federal budget, specifically the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution. This week, it is the Senate’s turn to hear from us: tell them that it is morally unacceptable for our nation to balance its budget on the backs of poor people at home and overseas.
 
Why is action important now? The Congress must act before March 4 to pass a Continuing Resolution so that the federal government can continue to operate.  The last Congress failed to pass the required legislation that allows the federal government, its agencies and programs, to operate through the current fiscal year, ending on September 30, 2011. Instead, it only passed a short-term spending bill, also known as a “stopgap” measure.
 
Click here to learn more at the CRS website and send a message to your senators.

 

Rural School Innovations webinar series
 
The National Rural Assembly continues its webinar series on rural school innovations, sponsored by The Rural School and Community Trust. The next webinar in this series is March 16 (Wednesday) at 2pm Eastern.
 
This month’s webinar will feature  practical innovations being implemented in rural schools. Webinar presenters include select “i3” grantees that claimed a rural competitive  preference and received matching grant support from the Rural School and  Community Trust. Panelists will focus on the opportunities, obstacles, and challenges they face in transforming rural education.
 
If you are a rural educator or an aspiring educator, community-based  activist, policy analyst, faith-based organization, or education  advocate for underserved and rural children, you are encouraged to register for this free webinar.
 
Send an email to info@ruraledu.org with your full name and contact information. A day prior to the event, you will receive an email with dial-in instructions and a pdf of the presentation. Questions? Contact Robert Mahaffey at robert.mahaffey@ruraledu.org, or 703-243-1487, x114.

 

Now Available at USDA: Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America
 
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released the Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America data set.  The tool, an interactive mapping application, provides spatial information (national to county-level) of socioeconomic factors on four broad categories of rural jobs, people/demographics, agriculture/farm structure, and county classifications (rural-urban continuum).
 
What can users do with the Atlas? The Atlas allows users to create national to county-level maps showing the variation in the four predetermined socioeconomic factors. Clicking on any county produces a pop-up box containing statistics for all indicators in the relevant category, and has the option to browse data in other categories. Users can download the data by clicking on Export Data.
 
This web-based tool provides up-to date  information useful to better understand changing trends affecting rural America and to identify priority areas for intervention.

Blessed are they who fear the Lord
 
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
 
His mercy is from age to age
   to those who fear him.
 
He has shown might with his arm,
   dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
 
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
   but lifted up the lowly.
 
The hungry he has filled with good things;
   the rich he has sent away empty.
 
Luke 1:49-54