We’re coming down the home stretch of Lent. For the past 36 days, we’ve given up sweets, didn’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, and put a few extra bucks in the collection basket. So, now we can relax and sail along until Easter morning, right?
With just four days left before Easter morning, now is precisely the time to step up our efforts to follow even more fervently the Church’s prescription for Lent: fasting, penance, and almsgiving.
In particular, it’s time to awaken to the needs of those less fortunate and reassess our finances to see how we can help. CRS Rice Bowl is one way we can do that.
From their website, CRS Rice Bowl is, “is Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.”
For the past forty years, CRS Rice Bowl has been reaching out to the needy in in anywhere from 40 to 45 countries throughout the world. The program runs very simply – small cardboard “rice bowls” are distributed through dioceses, parishes, and schools. During Lent, individuals and families make monetary contributions to the box as well as spiritual contributions through prayer.
So far, CRS Rice Bowl 2015 has been going very well.
“We’ve been very excited to see the increased buzz about CRS Rice Bowl in diocesan newspapers, on individual blogs and across social media. Communities are really looking for new and innovative ways to engage with Lent and that’s where our new resources have helped. Our What is Lent? video series has exploded on social media and our app downloads have more than doubled from last year. We’re hoping that all this buzz will translate into one of the best CRS Rice Bowl years yet—and that we’ll be able to make a real impact in the lives of the poor around the world,” said CRS Rice Bowl Manager, Elizabeth Martin.But it can do better yet, and we have the opportunity to be part of that eleventh-hour burst of energy.
“When we step back and consider that this paper rice bowl has made it possible to give real, life-saving assistance to so many, we see the power the 40 days of Lent have produced over the last four decades,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. Operations for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “It’s the right time to step forward and fill each Rice Bowl with $40 and make a lasting change for those who need our help.”
If you’re telling yourself that the little bit you still can give won’t really matter, think again. Even the smallest contribution counts in the biggest of ways. What’s more, you’ll not only be helping those in need who live afar, but also the needy right in your own diocese.
“What’s especially unique about the CRS Rice Bowl program is that it gives Catholics in the U.S. an opportunity to live through an enriched spiritual experience during Lent. Through their prayers, fasting, and almsgiving, they help their brothers and sisters overseas as well as in their local community,” said Elizabeth Martin. “75% of every donation goes to CRS programming around the world while 25% stays in local dioceses to support hunger alleviation initiatives. This helps our Church engage in true global solidarity and reminds us that we are all part of God’s family.”
The clock is ticking. Don’t let the chance pass you by to lend a hand to those who have so little and suffer so much. You’ll be blessed a hundredfold in return.
Here are two links you’ll want to check out:
CRS Rice Bowl’s Holy Week Resources: http://www.crsricebowl.org/holy-week/
Thomas Awiapo’s What is Lent? video: http://bit.ly/1HLxpWL
Image: CRS Rice Bowl, used with permisison