How can you offer sacrifices during Lent?
You can drop a 10-spot into the collection plate on Sunday morning, and walk away feeling smug.
Or you can “feed the hungry” by sharing your tuna sandwich with a homeless man, “clothe the naked” by purging your closet of seldom worn clothing, and “give drink to the thirsty” by volunteering to offer cool bottled water to runners in New York City’s Half-Marathon.
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Kerry Weber , a Mercy Associate and managing editor of America magazine, chose the latter course. She did all of these things, and more—and tells the story in her new book, Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job.
As Lent approached, the young, single New Yorker resolved to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy as she went about her daily life. Her stories of sacrifice on the subway, of volunteering at a Catholic Worker Movement house in the city, of sleeping in a church basement with a dozen homeless men, thrill with their bold simplicity.
One of the humorous Lenten challenges Weber confronted, as a Catholic who was both single and single-minded, was dating during Lent. She talked about planning a first date with a young man she’d met on-line. Choosing a restaurant for dinner was problematic since Kerry had given up alcohol and sweets for Lent, while her date had given up coffee, soda and all desserts.
I tend to live a lazy Lent, afraid to make a big commitment for fear of failure. I was inspired by Weber’s commitment to a vigorous Lenten regimen—and I realized that I must, this year, do more.
Mercy in the City is a slim volume, easily readable. It will inspire you, I know, as it has inspired me—to grow in faith and generosity.
Lent starts on Wednesday, March 5: Bring it on!