Believe it or not, Lent will be here before we know it. Typically, I'm one of those who has a love/hate relationship with this particular liturgical season. I love the increased focus on prayer and almsgiving, and the opportunity to take stock of my spiritual life prior to Ash Wednesday. But I struggle with fasting -- all too often I've tied my fasting to more of a "self improvement" mindset than to something spiritually substantive.
That's why I'm so happy that this year, our family will for the very first time be participating in Catholic Relief Services' fantastic Rice Bowl program. Here's the blueprint:
A cardboard or homemade CRS Rice Bowl is used to collect your Lenten alms. These donations will put “rice” into the empty bowls of our hungriest brothers and sisters. It serves as a concrete reminder of the world’s poor and Jesus’ call to serve them. A CRS Rice Bowl is also for you – it is inspiration for your Lenten journey. Daily reflections, weekly prayers, and stories of hope from around the world will enrich your relationship with God during this liturgical season and challenge you to live in solidarity with our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
I picked up our Rice Bowl while attending this year's United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Fall Assembly. I was fortunate enough to hear Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson and Catholic Relief Services’ board chair present the newly revamped Rice Bowl program to his brother bishops. I love the fact that by being a part of Rice Bowl, we tie our small sacrificial giving to the larger global community. I love the amazingly simple recipes offered on the website and the abundant family activities for all ages. I love that our family will decide together a family fast and that our mutual commitment to God and one another will be helping families just like ours who greatly need love and support.
I hope you'll consider joining me in being a part of Rice Bowl 2013. If your parish, school or diocese has a program, be on the lookout for the chance to pick up your own Rice Bowl. But if they don't you can still be a part of the program by making your own Rice Bowl or ordering a free one to be sent to you. You could even step up to be the person who brings Rice Bowl to your parish, school or diocese.
During the weeks leading up to Lent and as we move prayerfully through the season, you'll see other bloggers discussing their involvement in Rice Bowl 2013. I look forward to sharing our family's experience with you here as we move forward and ask you to prayerfully consider being a part of something so special, with so much potential to change lives.
In closing, I will leave you with the Rice Bowl prayer that our family will recite this Lent:
Let us pray.
Help us this Lent to let go of those things that weigh us down.
May our prayers and sacrifices bring us closer to your Son, Jesus,
And help bring life to our brothers and sisters who struggle with hunger and poverty.
May we proclaim the dignity of life, and celebrate the witness of your love each day.
Won't you join us?
Copyright 2013 Lisa M. Hendey
About the Author
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Visit Lisa's author page on Amazon.com.