Prayer Fasting Almsgiving
As we enter Holy Week, hopefully, we are fine tuning our Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving so we will be able to share more fully in the Triduum liturgies.
Before our prayer, I will start with a quote from Galatians chapter six verse two “Bear one another’s burdens, and so will you fulfill the law of Christ." We are not talking about bearing our own, self-centered burdens, but like Christ on the cross freely accepting the burdens of others. So as we pray, fast, and give alms, let us visualize a homeless person. Let us give that person a name and let us think about what that person is like, what he does, what he eats, and where he sleeps this Holy Week. Let us think of him or her often as we go through this week before the Triduum.
Now our prayer. Think of your person as you say the prayer.
Hear our prayer today for all women and men, boys and girls who are homeless this day.
For those sleeping under bridges, on park benches, in doorways or bus stations.
For those who can only find shelter for the night but must wander in the daytime
For families broken because they could not afford to pay the rent.
For those who have no relatives or friends who can take them in.
For those who have no place to keep possessions that remind them who they are.
For those who are afraid and hopeless.
For all these people, we pray that you will provide shelter, security and hope.
We pray for those of us with warm houses and comfortable beds that we not be lulled into complacency and forgetfulness. Jesus, help us to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet so that we may be empowered through word and deed, and through the political means we have, to bring justice and peace to those who are homeless. Amen
As we consider our fasting, we first want to think of our person by name. For fasting, I suggest one or two days of eating half as much at each meal as you usually would.
As we consider our almsgiving, again think of our person by name. For our almsgiving, let us give what we think would be a reasonable amount it would cost to feed a homeless person for one or two days.
by Ken Bresnan, Community Outreach Liaison
This week we can work on our corporal work of Mercy “to welcome the stranger”. Let us look through the lens of the Lenten approach of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
We have all seen pictures of refugees in camps across the work in Africa and on other continents. I would ask you to visualize a person or a family in their shelter or somewhere in one of those camps. There are over 50 million displaced refugees in the world and Catholic Charities in Des Moines resettles about 200 of those. Once you have that picture, I will suggest a stanza from a prayer entitled “A Moment of Grace.”
God of our wandering Ancestors.
Long have we known?
That your heart is with the refugee:
That you were born into time
In a family of refugees
Fleeing violence in their homeland,
Who then gathered up their hungry child?
And fled into alien country
Their cry, your cry, resounds through the ages: “Will you let me I?”
For fasting one could eat in solidarity with a refugee family for a day, or three, or a week. The average American eats 3770 calories a day. The UN Council on Refugees aims at getting 2100 calories a day available to inhabitants of refugee camps. 13 of the camps in Sudan at one point were only getting 850 calories a day. There are tons of calorie counters on the internet. As you choose your fasting, keep picturing your person or family as you go through the day. This will give you a sense of solidarity with the stranger.
And for Almsgiving here is are a way to welcome the stranger. We do encourage and endorse the CRS Rice Bowl collection and do not want you to forget that avenue. Catholic Charites of Des Moines welcomes 200 refuges a year. Many come with nothing and we have to provide almost everything for them on day one. There are many items we need, but I will mention five that we have to buy. You could donate one of them this week. Kitchen knife set, $20, kitchen pan set, $30, kids school backpack, $20, carpet sweeper, $25, and winter boots $25. Click here for a complete list of volunteer needs.
May God's blessings be upon you as you make your journey through Lent.