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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
February 25, 2007
Almsgiving During Lent - A CRS Perspective

    Some of the most common words associated with the holy season of Lent are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.  There is a very important reason for this.  Lent is a season that is given to us by the church in order to help us re-align ourselves to our Baptismal commitment.  We do this by reconnecting with the God who loves us and who wants us to be in a healthy, life giving relationship with him.  As in every other relationship we have, one of the most important ingredients is good communication, hence, Prayer.  It is virtually impossible to relate to God if we neglect daily prayer, even if it is only a few minutes a day. 

    Fasting is an old tradition that helps us to come into a deeper realization of our need and dependence on God.  Like Jesus states in this weeks Gospel, we don’t live on bread alone.  We need God and God will give us what we need simply because he loves us and wants us to be happy, i.e., if we trust him and believe that he cares.

    Almsgiving, the third notion associated with Lent has a very long tradition that is also scripturally based.  This is a practice that is directly related to the two greatest Commandments.  The first, we know, is to love God with all our hearts, minds and strength.  The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  As a matter of fact, it is by loving our neighbor that we show our love for God.  Unfortunately, our neighbor is not only the person next door.  We know the story of the Good Samaritan very well.  Jesus taught us that our neighbor is everyone, near and far.  Although caring for our neighbor must be a year round practice, Lent is a time to renew this practice, one that has probably been put on the back burner due to so many other concerns in our life.

    During Lent, the Church in the United States asks us to unite our almsgiving to the American born organization known as the Catholic Relief Services.  CRS was founded in 1943 to help the war ravaged countries of Europe toward the end of WWII.  The mission of CRS is to assist the poor and disadvantaged, basing itself on the Gospel of Christ which teaches us to alleviate human suffering, promote development of all people, and to foster charity and justice.  Once the European countries were back on their feet, CRS decided to move on to other continents.  Today they serve five continents and 99 countries including the US.

    The yearly practice of contributing through the Rice Bowl enables us to play a significant part in the work of Catholic Relief Services.  As Americans we should be proud of the work this organization does.  It does not simply provide food for the hungry, although it does do that.  This organization seeks out the most needy people.  It begins by alleviating the immediate pain such as hunger and other needs often caused by hurricanes or Tsunamis.  It does not stop there however.   CRS works, through programs of education, to help remove the causes of poverty and promotes social justice.  CRS works to promote the dignity of the human person by teaching people to help themselves.    CRS also works in collaboration with other partners around the globe, providing relief, development assistance in the fields of health and HIV, justice, education, agriculture, microfinance and emergency response such as in Hurricane Katrina.

    Lent is a time to bring us back to God and our neighbor.  Have a Holy Lenten Season.
                                Lorette P. Nault