During Lent, We look for ways to increase our prayer, almsgiving and sacrifice throughout our Lenten journey, I would like to suggest a wholehearted participation in Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl this year.
For those of us who may have forgotten or do not know the story of CRS Rice Bowl, let me tell you. It began in 1975 in a parish in the Allentown Diocese. It was a response to a call from Catholic Relief Services to help people in Africa who were starving due to severe famine. Since that time it has grown a national response to global hunger.
Catholic Relief Services is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Through Rice Bowl faith communities in every diocese throughout the United States put their faith into action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lenten alms donated through the Rice Bowl this year will be sent to over 100 countries where CRS works. Three countries will be highlighted in this year’s effort: Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya. Additionally, 25% of all donations stay within the United States to offer help locally. In our Archdiocese, the 25% is shared with Nutritional Development Services which supports a network of 50 food cupboards and soup kitchens.
If each family takes just one Rice Bowl, it will find a pamphlet inside the Rice Bowl with suggestions as to ways in which the family may participate. This is the beauty of this program: it enables the entire family to enter fully into the spirit of Lent. There is a calendar of suggestions, recipes from the featured countries, online stories about family life in these countries and a Lenten prayer that can be used on the night of Rice Bowl in the family’s home.
Even if the recipes are not used, families can still participate by selecting one night a week on which the family will sit down to a simple, inexpensive meal. The money that would have been spent on the regular family meals gets put into the Rice Bowl. At the end of Lent the money the family donated in the Rice Bowl becomes a check which is placed into the collection basket on a specified Sunday.
This year during Lent, we are challenging families to pay attention to Global Solidarity Week which occurs the week of March 22-28. Listen and look for ways you and your family may enter more fully into solidarity with our food deprived brothers and sisters around the world. Thank you!
(Special thanks to Sr. Joyce Bell IHM for her assistance in preparing these remarks).