Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Plain Catholic Charism

I have over time considered the thoughts of Plain Catholicism. There is indeed a desire amongst some Catholics to live a simpler lifestyle modeled on earlier ways of living. This past Saturday I attended an Auction in an Amish town in SC Kansas. It was inspiring seeing all the people dressed in their simple, but very useful and workable clothes. The little girls had long skirts and scarves around their head because it was a cool morning. I was wearing my amish straw hat and thus was mistaken by a couple of older Amishmen as being Mennonite or Amish. I'm afraid that I shocked them when I explained that I was Catholic. This particular Amish settlement is very liberal and has allowed most modern conveniences in some way or another. Only 2 horsedrawn buggies graced the side of the barn when we pulled up in our gas guzzling Jeep.

I continue to contemplate my own and my family's calling to this agrarian lifestyle. The only real model for an agrarian based community left today is the Amish. Yet, even the Amish have given in to many cultural conveniences and depend often on the industrialized world to provide many of the things they use daily such as their flour, sugar, and farm implements. It seems to me that some of this interaction is necessary, but alas I am going off topic...again. Plain Catholicism is mentioned on several websites on the internet, but it seems the apostolate is still small and without a great amount of leadership. The ideas are not very set and seems to be open to discussion. I would like to put my thoughts forward on this movement and why I am somewhat drawn to it.

I would like to start out with a caution about such an endeavour. Plain Catholicism is indeed a noble thought, but we as Catholics must be careful when we model a movement off a heresy. The Anabaptists adapted their way of life out of necessity in order to preserve their beliefs in the midst of heavy persecution. Their ideas about Baptism represented a significant threat to the established Traditions of Christendom. They were so far out that even the other Protestants felt threatened by them. Nonetheless, these groups of Anabaptists survived and moved to the new World. Today they are the only group that has kept a significant portion of our agricultural heritage alive. However, as Catholics we must be careful to differentiate our own beliefs from theirs. Anything that is not truly Catholic or cannot be reconciled and made Catholic must be left out of Plain Catholicism. Care must be taken that we not confuse people and make them believe that we are Amish or Mennonite. Possibly something that would distinguish Plain Catholics as specifically Catholic could be added to the apparel and Plain Catholicism could possibly become a lay movement. I myself wear and Amish straw hat because it is extremely functional and made much better than the ugly garden straw hats. It also represents an agriculural heritage that does not belong exclusively to the amish.

I would like to put forth a few proposals about Plain Catholicism. First, I don't know if there is another name that would be fitting, but Plain Catholicism does seem to work well. It includes the part of the Amish tradition that we seek to continue in our own lives with out including the religious part. Also if a lay association of the Faithful was begun then possibly a certain style of functional clothing based in the agrarian traditions of our forefathers could be chose, and possibly some of this could be based on the Amish tradition since they really have just preserved the peasant and farmer clothing of Post Reformation Europe. The goal though would be to not confuse people and wear things that are agrarian based, but not confusing. This style of clothing could act as a sort of glue for people living this charism.

I think another consideration is that the clothing and ways of life and beliefs of faith in the Amish peoples are all linked together. The Amish lose their way of living and all the outward appearances when they leave their faith. It must be considered then how taking just one aspect from this tradition will hold together once separated from the body. The Amish beards, hats, hooks and eyes all signal a separation from the World for the Amish. These are marks of distinction that shout "Amish" in a clear way. As Catholic we do not want to scream "Amish." Thus caution would have to be taken in style of clothing.

The possibility of living together on the land with other families would make Plain Catholicism even more plausible. A community would provide support for agrarian Catholic families. However, I believe once again that such a community is extremely difficult to do in our world. Maybe with God's providence this will one day come into being.

Plain Catholicism is very intriguing. I am attracted by it, but also very cautious at the same time. We must be truly Catholic, however the Catholic Church says to spread the faith by all legitimate means. Maybe an agrarian movement of Catholics would be a spark in the Church and a place of agrarian renewal in our broken World.


Marquette said...

I have enjoyed your blog for quite some time. I also have a desire to fuse together the Catholic and Homesteading lifestyles. Every bit more I learn about my Catholic faith, espically during Lent, blends well with homesteading.
One area which is more difficut to bend is the area of health care. Maybe you wish to contemplate solutions. Ideally, clean living will require less health care, but there are still health care needs that need to be addressed. How is one able to afford health care for their family in a true self sufficient homestead? If do need health care, there goes your farm in medical bills. If you altogether skip out on health care for you, your wife, or children - well what kind of Catholic does that?
The Catholic Church as a long standing history of supporting education and medical care through a community. In a homesteading lifestyle, those are two areas where people often seperate themselves from society. What are we to do?

Anonymous said...

Sorry if my post is long... a few random comments, from the Great White North!

Amish community - SC Kansas... could it be Yoder? I remember Yoder from my days at KU. Had friends in Andover and Hutch. When we'd visit their homes... Yoder was an attraction...

As for Plain Catholicism... I, too, am intrigued. Like Traditional and many Novus Catholics, the Amish do not believe in the "security of Salvation" While they do not believe in infant Baptism, many Amish do practice a works-based relationship with God. Similar to many Catholics... which may be why some Protestant sects find them dangerous...??

Must we don a uniform? I don't know. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance - a lay Franciscan apostolate rooted in Minnesota, also interest me. They follow the Primitive Rule of Life -the original Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, 1221. Not the modernist lay-Franciscans of today, who lean towards the ideals of Catholic Action. The BSP are the real Franciscans Pope Leo XIII said we should all strive to follow in our daily lives...

As far as a Catholic Community, or Colony (or ghetto?) Distributists touch on this concept often. Yet so many Traditional Catholics are infected with the taint of consumerism disguised as "suburbia". They may not see it this way... But it's true, I believe. Getting sympathy for such an endeavor is easy; getting actual committments (i.e. Maple Hill and Clear Creek) - much more difficult. I am sure God has richly blessed those who have made the moves to these two communities... They have chosen wisely...

(Good to see your posts and comments growing. People are reading and following your blog!)


Homeward Bound said...

I will address Marquette first. I think that we have to look at the larger picture of why is medical insurance seemingly so necessary in our modern society. We seemingly need medical insurance so much because we are so unhealthy as a society. Most of our jobs involve sitting on our duffs typing on an electronic keyboard 8 hours of the day and commuting over an hours sometimes each way. We sit down at home in front of our TV and enjoy our favorite pre-processed goodie and spend the rest of our waking hours sitting and eating. Our foods are filled with innumerable chemicals some of which are known carcinogens. In a culture where we drive to the gym to get exercise it is no wonder we need medical insurance. I think a change of lifestyle would be a beginning in remedying some of what ails us. However, insurance still seems to be a need depending on your perspective. The Amish have a long history of sharing medical bills, but their list of ailments is much shorter than ours because they do manual labor much of their lives. I think some community based insurance may be the answer, but with modern costs this simply does not add up. Doctors are overpaid to help with their insurance costs in our sue happy world. Pharma. companies have a death grip on meds so that won't change soo either. Possibly a societal reset will be the only way that real medical help will be achieved.


Homeward Bound said...

I also wanted to reply to ihs. Yes, the community is Yoder. Yoder, has left most of its humble Amish beginnings. Most of the Amish have tractors there. Very few of them still drive horse teams, however the remnants of this past way of living is still evident especially at farm sales, which I try to frequent.If they aren't interested in using the old farm equipment I am.


Anonymous said...

Yoder, and many other Amish communities, continue to open their doors to the present. I guess an old tractor isn't a bad thing!

Did you check out the Brothers and Sisters of Penance? Thoughts??

For the record, I support Traditional Catholic Restorationists taking over small towns and their surrounding areas...


PlainCatholic said...

Aye indeed, the Plain Catholics in the world are cautiously moving forward and being cautious about any movement is always accompanied with prayer and seeking God's Will for your life. You may enjoy the history of the movement here at this link http://www.freewebs.com/plaincatholic/ourhistory.htm

Our uniform is not so uniform after all; head coverings vary while still representative of Scripture. As for clothing: women in skirts, dresses and jumpers is not quite so uniform but the feminine is still present. You can read more about the rationale for the clothing at http://plaincatholic.webs.com/modestyandpurity.htm in which the Catholic precept is stated. The variety of clothing is discussed here http://www.freewebs.com/plaincatholic/ourclothing.htm

As mentioned at the website, we are loyal to Catholic teaching, not Amish. If you care to take part in a more private discussion of the aspects of the Plain Catholic charism you can join the Yahoo group Plain Catholics http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Plain_Catholics/

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Plain Catholic:


My wife ordered the 1914 dress pattern a while ago! Beautiful. Sorry if my "uniform" reference came off the wrong way; I have a deep respect for the Plain Catholics, what they stand for, and why. It is most attractive. I follow a few of the blogsites...

My wife and daughters wear dresses exclusively. My son and I will eliminate shorts from our wardrobe (unless he is in soccer, or me on a jog). We continue moving in the same direction...

I am aware you are loyal to the Catholic, not Anabaptist teaching! :)

I'll check out the links you posted, as well. We are asked to detach. There is freedom in detachment, as you have undoubtedly found.


Homeward Bound said...

I find it interesting that this post has brought the most comments. I definitely find something like Plain Catholicism very attractive. It seems also that the understanding and formation of plain Catholicism is still in the process so it will be interesting to see how things work out. I guess if society collapses then we will all be living a more Plain life.


Anonymous said...

Traditional Catholic Homesteading... Seems to me to be Plain Catholicism, in a very real way!


Molly said...

I am so glad to have found this blog.

I have been fascinated by the plain life for quite some time, but I live in Southern California & am not sure how I can apply it to my own life.

Max Marie, OFS said...

I very much enjoyed your post. I am a professed Franciscan and very much embrace a simple life.

I find the more my fraternity embraces liberalism the more I withdraw from them. The more they wish to "go with the flow" - the more I wish to go plant pumpkins.

I live in Las Vegas. People forget it is a frontier town. It is not unusual to see horses going right on down the roads. With all the foreclosures on small homestead properties, it might be a good place to form a community.

I see Plain Catholic invited you to join their Yahoo Group. I tried to join many weeks ago but was told they had enough members and were not accepting new.