Catholic Charities : Diocese of Des Moines
February 2016

February 17, 2016

As we enter into the Lenten period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, let us consider the corporal work of Mercy “to feed the hungry."  Let us use for example a Lenten reflection or activity towards an unknown stranger coming to a food pantry (Catholic Charities St. Mary’s Family Center) for an emergency box of food for their family.  Let us picture that person, envision them any way that you would like, but make a vision that you can see as you want to turn your focus towards that work of mercy. 

Let us start with a prayer.  Remember this prayer is for us, Lent is for our reflection.  I might suggest two stanzas from prayer generated by the One Human Family, Food for All effort of the Vatican:
Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food, even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.
We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members of the global family.

The food box in your vision will feed the family for three days.  What is it that you can fast from to help you identify with this person?  What kind of fast can you do for three days?  Would skipping lunch for three days be a fasting event that would let you see Jesus in the least of our brethren? Would it remind you of that vision you have of the hungry person or family? Would giving up meat for three days? Would fasting from sunrise to sunset help you identify with that person? Would eating 1/3 less food for three days help you do this?  I bet that everyone can come up some type of fast that would fill the bill.

And third we come to almsgiving.  What does it cost to feed yourself or your family for three days?  Personally, I am looking in the $60 range. I think that might be a good amount to give in alms. This donation for a family like the one you have envisioned might help you see how prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent fulfills one of our corporal works of mercy but, more importantly, helps one grow and prepare for Easter with our three charges during Lent.

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