“Talking The Talk” – Giving up swearing for Lent

Human rights activist and blogger Amy has already had to give up a lot this year. Now she’s decided to give up one more habit for Lent – swearing. She tells us how a broken down car and a serendipitous sermon helped strengthen her resolve to take on the #GiveItUpChallenge.

If I am honest I don’t normally give anything up for Lent.  A number of years back I heard a sermon about how you could try and take something up for Lent instead of giving something up, so that year I decided to pray in my car instead of listening to the radio.  I honestly had the most amazing 40 days and felt so close to God by the end of it.

However, as I was musing about this challenge over the last week or so I realised that I hadn’t just taken something up, I had in fact given something up as well, I just hadn’t consciously done so!  I had given up listening to the radio and it has taken me best part of 15 years to consider the fact that maybe this was a fruitful 40 days for me in part because of my giving up, not just my taking up.

I have up until now felt a little smug as I watch people giving things up, due to my secret “wisdom” that you should in fact be taking something up.  However, God has graciously humbled me just before the start of my challenge, for which I am thankful.

Still haven’t picked something to give up for Lent? It’s never too late – take the CAFOD Lent quiz for inspiration!

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Step into the Gap: What struck me most on my Step into the Gap visit

CAFOD gap year volunteer, Aleks Adamczyk, who is currently on placement at St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Blackpool, reflects on meeting CAFOD’s partners in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

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Giving up plastic for Lent

Julia is a CAFOD volunteer. She has recently been working with our Campaigns team so has decided to take on an environmental Lent Challenge. Here she tells us why giving up plastic will be so difficult.

Julia is taking on the CAFOD Lent Challenge
Julia is taking on the Give it up challenge by giving up Plastic

This lent I am challenging myself to give up buying single use plastic. You may have heard the term ‘single use plastic’ in the news recently. It means plastic that is used one time before being thrown away or put into the recycling bin.

Single use plastic is used in a lot of things for example straws, paper cups, water bottles, packaging, shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, make up products, medicines and plenty of other items. I use these items every day.

Still not sure what to give up for Lent? Take the CAFOD Lent quiz for inspiration!

The lasting effect of Lent

Last February, I attended a retreat weekend where I was challenged on the impact I have on the planet. The discussion ranged from how much meat I consume to how our waste culture encourages us to throw away. Continue reading “Giving up plastic for Lent”

Give it up: visiting schools this Lent

Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge. 

Gillie is a school volunteer who has been sharing stories from Zimbabwe this Lent as part of the give it up appeal
Gillie delivering the CAFOD Lent assembly.

A primary school in South London.  A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital.  He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible.  I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.

I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge.  As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond.  This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.

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Step into the Gap: Occupational therapy in San Salvador

Step into the Gap volunteer, Sophie Aulton, who is currently completing her placement at Leeds Trinity University, shares her experience of spending time at a project in El Salvador.

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One project that I really enjoyed seeing, and perhaps which spoke to me the most was the Occupational Therapy for senior community residents that took place in an area just outside of San Salvador.

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How to mark Family Fast Day in your parish this Lent

Margaret Finn is a CAFOD supporter and parishioner at the Holy Name of Mary church in Middlesbrough. Here, Margaret writes about how the parish prepares for Family Fast Day at Lent.

Margaret is a CAFOD parish volunteer in Middlesbrough
Margaret is a CAFOD parish volunteer in Middlesbrough

Supporting CAFOD’s work is very important to people in our parish. We are always aware of those less fortunate than ourselves. This is across the age range of parishioners – from nursery children to grandparents. Children at St Edward’s, the school next door to the parish where I used to teach, take part with assemblies and fundraising events, while members of our Justice & Peace group help to prepare in the parish ahead of Ash Wednesday.

There are various things we do to get ready for Family Fast Day.

1. Pin up poster and put announcement in newsletter

A Family Fast Day poster
A Family Fast Day poster

Firstly, we have to let people know that Family Fast Day is coming up. We try to put up a poster at the entrance to the church and a notice in the newsletter a few weeks earlier so that people will be thinking about Lent before the season arrives. It’s always eye-catching and reminds us of the difference we can make.

This Lent, donate to CAFOD’s Family Fast Day Appeal and have your donations matched by the UK government

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Going vegan for Lent

Susy works in the Theology team at CAFOD. This Lent, inspired in part by Laudato Si’, she will be going vegan. She tells us more about her reasons for abstaining from animal products and what she’s going to miss the most.

Thirty years ago my brother showed me a video (yes, it was a video in those days!) of a factory farm and from that day on I have been vegetarian. Or, to be more accurate, pescatarian.

I decided that there was so much choice in terms of available food, that there was no need to eat meat. I didn’t find it hard to be honest and I do not miss meat at all. However, when I spent a year in Chile, I think I must have been one of only two vegetarians in the whole country and I was viewed as somewhat suspect!

Thirty years on, I am now preparing to go vegan for Lent and hoping that I will start getting into habits that may last a life-time.

Have you decided what to give up for Lent yet? Tell us on Twitter or take our Lent quiz for inspiration.

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Step into the Gap: Planting, Harvesting and Saving in Sierra Leone

Kayleigh Margetts, one of the Step into the Gap volunteers, who is currently on placement at The Briars retreat centre, shares her experience of seeing CAFOD’s partner work in Sierra Leone.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

In our second week, we travelled to Modia in Gbinleh Dixon chiefdom to visit the cassava farm and the vegetable garden that belonged to the community.

After having a wonderful experience meeting the community of Maforay the day before, all of us were excited to meet this new group of people with inspiring experiences and an incredible culture.

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Fasting: what it means to me

In preparation for Lent Family Fast Day, we asked Fr Nicholas Crowe some questions about Lent. He told us what fasting means to him and why fasting this Lent is a real opportunity for spiritual growth and love of neighbour.

What does fasting mean to you?

Let’s start by thinking about why fasting in a Christian sense is different from dieting. It is because Christian fasting comes from an act of faith. It is our faith that things can be different, that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are called to be a new creation.

So often our cravings and routines can become selfish and block out God and the needs of others. So we need Lent as a time to turn back to God, to make a special effort to let Jesus be the centre of our lives. I see Lent as an invitation to renew and deepen our conversion, a spiritual gym work out. However, in our Lenten gym, God’s grace lifts the weights and causes the real change in us. All we have to do is turn up.

Taking part in Family Fast Day is our way of turning up, of saying yes to God. Yes God, cause great change in me this Lent. Be bold enough to join the fast and let Jesus show you the injustice, the marginalised and the unloved that need you today.

Donate the money you save through fasting to our Family Fast Day appeal

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Step into the Gap: Hope and Sustainability in El Salvador

CAFOD gap year volunteers, Ciara Hogan and Sophie Aulton, who are currently on their placements at The Briars and Leeds Trinity University, reflect on hope and sustainability in El Salvador.

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