As I reflect back on the season of Lent this year, I marvel at the beautiful bounty the 40 days have reaped in my life this year. In the last week of January, I stood in the farm fields of Tanzania alongside men and women whose families are served by Catholic Relief Services‘ amazing Rice Bowl program. I had volunteered several months prior to bring Rice Bowl to my parish. Little could I have known when I took that step to say a little “Yes” how my world would be so impacted by the work done by Rice Bowl.
In this poignant video from CRS, Thomas Awiapo, a CRS staffer who knows personally how their work can change lives, answers the question “What Is Lent?”
On Thursday, Lent officially ends. With Holy Thursday, we commence the Triduum, a period of even more intense prayer and anticipation. This year, I can look at my Lenten devotions for the first time in many years and see a profound connection between my chosen Lenten fast and the simple goal I had to unite my devotional prayer with other people around the world.
I will readily admit that I stumbled a few times along that path. But there were also many times when I was tempted to “give up” and instead thought back to the small, smiling faces of the children I met in Tanzania. Instead of giving in to my deep weakness, I asked God to bless their lives and to embolden me to be stronger in my commitment to bringing them lasting comfort, shelter and peace. As I put my little bits of sharing into a small cardboard container, I thanked God for changing not only their lives, but mine as well.
If you are reading this today and feel as though your Lent has not been all that you hoped it would be, I want to encourage you that it is not too late to unite these last few days before Easter with those around the world who know deep need in their lives.
Today is not just the end of Lent.
It is the beginning of our “Yes” to cooperating with God’s plans for our lives.
As Thomas Awiapo and the families of Tanzania have taught me: