Through its annual rice bowl initiative, Catholic Relief Services has announced it will be promoting a “culture of encounter” in its Lenten operation.
“At a time when there is so much conflict in the world, this Lenten program gives people of all ages a way to respond to human suffering with compassion and action,” Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. operations for Catholic Relief Services, stated.
“To learn the names and stories of our brothers and sisters, to include them in our prayers, to contribute our Lenten sacrifices so they can live better, healthier lives; this is the way we deepen our faith, building a culture of encounter and holding up the dignity of each and every one of us,” she added.
“CRS Rice Bowl” is the annual Lenten initiative of Catholic Relief Services. Participating Catholics pray, fast, and give alms to CRS in solidarity with each other and with other needy families throughout the world.
The theme is “encounter,” CRS insists. “Through prayer, we encounter Christ, present in the faces of every member of our human family, so often still walking that long road to Calvary,” they stated.
“Through fasting, we encounter our own obstacles, those things about ourselves that prevent us from loving God and neighbor,” they added. “Through almsgiving, we encounter our brothers and sisters around the world, asking what we can give up so that others might have life to the fullest.”
In addition to accepting donations from Catholics, Rice Bowl provides weekly prayer reflections and its website CRSRiceBowl.org features videos on how to practice Lent, from leaders like Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.
The program also provides meatless recipes, and opportunities for Catholics to learn about other families around the world helped by CRS and the social teaching of the Church.
CRS claims that only one dollar donated per day of Lent could provide a month’s worth of food for another family in need. Donations could also provide medical care for children or clean drinking water.
“We want to meet people where they are in their day-to-day lives, in schools, in parishes, and on the go. CRS Rice Bowl is an easy to use tool that helps people deepen their Lenten journey by participating in our Lenten traditions – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – in a time and way that suits them best,” Beth Martin, director for U.S. operations of the program, explained.
Participants can receive email updates from the program by signing up on the website, or they can download the Rice Bowl app onto their smartphones.
A quarter of donations go to local anti-poverty and food programs while three-quarters “goes to support CRS’ humanitarian and development programs overseas, providing life-saving assistance and hope to impoverished and vulnerable communities,” the group said.
Pope Francis, in his Lenten message, asked Catholics to participate in Lenten campaigns “promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family.”
By Matt Hadro