Introduction to NCLM
The Catholic Land Movement began in England during the first few decades of the Twentieth Century. This movement sought to return the family to the land, which the Church taught was the ideal environment for family life. Pope Pius XII even went so far as to call the family farm the “ideal nursery” of family life. The greatest promoters of this movement were all well known Catholic intellectuals of the time. G.K. Chesteron, Hilaire Belloc, Fr. Vincent McNabb O.P. and others wrote often and well of the ideal life of families living their faith in tune with both the natural and liturgical cycle of life. This movement also promoted the economic theory of Distributism, which was a theory built upon the great Papal Social Encyclicals. Distributism stated simply that the means of production ought to be distributed as widely as possible. As Chesterton put it, each man, where possible, ought to have three acres and a cow. This is not to say that cities are bad or evil, but that too often cities lack the civility for which they stand. Man has become a slave to a system and he no longer has the normal occupation of looking after his own property. Today, instead, man spends all his work time looking after someone else’s property, or fulfilling a job that is little more than a cog in the wheel of a system over which he has no control. The Catholic Land Movement sought to settle families back on the land as a remedy to the disastrous effects of industrialization on family life.
The Catholic Land Movement did achieve some successes. The Bishops of Britain supported spiritually the efforts of those seeking to settle families on the land. They also succeeded in establishing a training farm for young men, and in printing pamphlets and books supporting their cause. However, providence seemed to have other plans for this movement. The movement’s three key supporters all died or became incapacitated during a short period of time. G.K. Chesterton and Fr. Vincent McNabb both went to their eternal rewards, while Hilaire Belloc suffered a severe stroke. With the onset of World War II the Catholic Land Movement became a distant memory. Industrialization won the war and seemed to win the future. However, today we are in a crisis of civilization that the original Catholic Land Movement founders could hardly have imagined. Today our cities are becoming uncomfortably similar to Sodom and Gomorrah, and our children are becoming ever more distant from the source of the food that sustains them. Indeed it seems that today, even more than at the beginning of the Twentieth Century we need a Catholic Land Movement to restore rural life and community. So it is that we set out to found a New Catholic Land Movement for our own times.
The New Catholic Land Movement is founded on the principles of the original Catholic Land Movement. We seek again to bring those ideals to the forefront of Catholic life and thought. We seek through the education of young people and families in the art of Catholic Rural Life to restore Catholic Culture in some small way. We seek, as did the original movement, to found an Institute dedicated to the restoration of Catholic Rural Life. Here families and individuals could come to be trained in the art of farming in ways that respect the dignity of creation. Here also families could settle so as to enjoy true rural community and live a life on the land. These families can help to feed not only their own families, but also the poor and the needy of the world. We are seeking support in any way possible for this endeavor and hope you will consider supporting this apostolate. We are working toward non-profit status, and should have that ready soon. Please keep the intentions of this apostolate in your prayers and God bless you for your support.