Archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic Chicago Blog

Monday, February 04, 2013

Lent for Life

By Thomas Howard

CRS Rice Bowl brings Lent to life.  With violence, poverty and injustice threatening humans with increasing intensity, CRS Rice Bowl sheds light on a core mystery of our faith which is often overshadowed when these social sins tear away at human dignity: Christ’s death promises new life for all of humanity!

Families, educators, catechists, pastoral ministers, clergy, and individuals are encouraged to spend time each week during Lent on one of six Stories of Hope, where prayers, recipes, stories and videos are easy to access and ready to use.  Inside this year’s Rice Bowl, a handout highlights how the work of CRS improves harvests in Burkina Faso, stops tuberculosis in East Timor, brings early childhood education to Lesotho, fosters savings in the Dominican Republic, provides clean water in Pakistan, and helps those in need in Oakland, California.

An important change to note this year is that Operation Rice Bowl has been renamed to CRS Rice Bowl. While CRS is responsible for proving aid to over 100 million people, many remain unfamiliar with the agency and its work. In order to promote the Year of Faith and its mission of reinforcing the lives and well-being of God’s children globally, CRS Rice Bowl has adopted the CRS tag as it promotes almsgiving during this time of spiritual renewal.

Another ammendment this year is the challenge to participate in caring for God’s creation by using less paper. All CRS Rice Bowl documents such as coordinator’s guide, school lesson plans and other promotional materials are now available online on the CRS Rice Bowl website. These electronic documents make it possible to share identical resources between dioceses while also making them more readily available to all members of a coordinating team. Having a national standard for CRS Rice Bowl materials creates a level of continuity so we all may use CRS Rice Bowl together to promote reflection and giving with a singular Catholic collective voice.  All Rice Bowl Coordinators recently received a letter outlining how they can assist the Archdiocese in the transition to go paperless.

A helpful way to encourage CRS Rice Bowl participation at parishes is to describe CRS Rice Bowl as a faith formation program, even though Rice Bowls serve as a practical way for Catholics to participate in Lenten almsgiving.

CRS invites Catholics to make three steps in their Lenten journey:  praying to reflect on what type of persons we are called to be; fasting to remove the things that get between us and God, and to remember those without enough to eat; and giving to honor Jesus’ call to serve those in need.

With Ash Wednesday right around the corner,  now might be a good time for parishes to slip in a bulletin insert, plan bulletin announcement for the next few weeks, or even start thinking about a post-homily talk for Ash Wednesday or the first Sunday of Lent .  CRS even has week by week homily starters for priest and deacons.

Parishes are encouraged to kick-off CRS Rice Bowl with the Rice Bowl Prayer or encourage individuals and families to activate their Rice Bowls.  For parishes that want to go even farther, a whole community catechesis is available.   If parishes have a Catholic School or a Spanish speaking population, CRS offers a plentitude of resources as well.

For questions about CRS Rice Bowls or orders, contact Thomas Howard at 312-534-3890.

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