During this Lenten journey, it might be appropriate to take a close look at the Trócaire box. Families take a Trócaire box for the six weeks of Lent. They place it in their home and save money. With the money that they save together, the families make a sacrifice. They give up buying treats and give the money to Trócaire instead, so that families in poor countries like Sudan can have their basic needs met. Every year the Trócaire Lenten campaign helps a different area of the world that is suffering from food poverty, war, violence, deprivation of human rights or other injustices. This year 2021, the Trócaire Lenten Campaign will help the people of Sudan.
The first reading (Isaiah 58:1-9) proclaimed at Mass today focuses on the theme of fasting. Isaiah was a prophet called by God in the Old Testament to proclaim God’s word and to speak out in defence of people, marginalised and oppressed. Isaiah spoke to the people and explained to them what kind of fasting pleases God. Isaiah explains that when the people fast in a way that pleases God, that God will hear them when they cry out to him. God will say, ‘I am here.’
Fasting pleases God. Fasting is not only about giving up food or alcohol. It is about working to create a just society. To fast is very different to going on a diet. It is worthwhile to reflect on the difference between fasting and dieting.
Pope Francis wrote a list to suggest ways in which people can fast on this Lenten journey.
God desires people to work for justice. God wants the faithful who are fasting to eradicate poverty and to free people, enslaved and oppressed. God also wants the people to share their ‘bread with the hungry’, to ‘shelter the homeless poor’ and to clothe the naked.
God sent Jesus to show and to teach his followers how to care for people on the margins of society. This was Jesus’ mission and we as disciples continue that mission today.
In Psalm 50 proclaimed at Mass today, the psalmist begs God for mercy for his sins. The psalmist is not afraid to acknowledge his sins because he knows that God is a merciful God, a God full of mercy and compassion. The psalmist recognises that sin means breaking the loving relationship with God and the psalmist wants to be reconciled with God and with other people. God’s love is unconditional.
Today, God seeks reconciliation with all his creation. God invites us to turn to him with a ‘humble and contrite heart.’ That means a heart that is sorry and one that desires peace.
The Church assigns today on the calendar as ‘The Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse.’ In setting aside this day, we pray for survivors of sexual abuse and victims of sexual abuse. We pray
- that every person will respect his/her own dignity
- that all people may understand the dignity of every other human person, made in the image and likeness of God.
- that people will show respect to all God’s creation so all living beings will live in harmony in the web of life.
The Lenten them is explored in each standard of the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme for Catholic Primary Schools. The programme incorporates the annual Trócaire Lenten Campaign and its work for justice. God continues to call disciples to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. The means to do this during Lent are fasting, praying and giving alms. Pope Francis celebrated the World Day of the Poor in 2020 and he invited everyone to, ‘Stretch forth your hand to the poor.’ The Pope encourages his people to ‘listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’
VERITAS publications provides online resources relating to these themes from the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme. The Children’s Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book is also available.
- The Mission Prayer/ Ár bPaidir Misiúnta
- Lamb of God/A Uain Dé
- The story of Awut and Ajuk that is written on the Trócaire Box
- In what continent is Sudan? Find out 10 facts about Sudan
- What organisations work for people who are homeless in Ireland?
- Find out all you can about the work of Trócaire.
- Look up on the internet the suggested ways Pope Francis gives for fasting this Lent
REFLECT AND THINK
- Pope Francis says ‘Fast from hurting words and say kind words.’ What words do you like to hear when people speak kind words?
Sr Anne Neylon