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.