Lent: Bringing the Fast Day story to life

Bea Taylor, who is an Education Volunteer in the Plymouth Diocese, shares how she got creative this Family Fast Day within her parish.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal today

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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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Giving up plastic for Lent

Julia is in CAFOD’s Education team. 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!

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Your harvest donations will make a lasting difference

CAFOD’s World News Manager, Nana Anto-Awuakye explains how your donations for Family Fast Day will instill hope into those that see eating as a luxury.

On Sunday 23 September, pottering about in the kitchen, my constant companion – the radio – informs me that this very day is the autumn equinox, when day and night meet as equals, the official start of autumn.

I glance out through the kitchen window onto my garden, and see that the leaves are already falling, and turning their magnificent autumn yellows, browns and berry colours.

Host a Family Fast Day simple meal

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Facing the Beast from the East with no hot food

Hal and Cherrie from London based east-meets-west electronic pop group Ooberfuse have been finding sticking to their Lent Give It Up Challenge a little tricky – especially when Hal had to face the cold of the ‘Beast from the East’ without hot food or drinks!

Hal eating cold food
Hal eating cold chicken in coconut with a cold drink

Hal: Giving up hot food and drink on the basis that it starts with the first letter of my Christian name sounded like a great idea before the season of Lent began. What I never foresaw, however, was that London would experience its coldest winter with temperatures dropping to sub zero levels.

It’s a primitive instinct when you’re cold to take in hot fluids and hot foodstuff. For example, nothing tastes better than a baked potato on a cold winter’s night. So when the Beast from the East burst in to our lives, I was struggling with these basic instincts.

Donate to the CAFOD Lent appeal

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Mother’s Day: why all mums deserve breastfeeding help

When Laura Storr from CAFOD’s communications team heard how new mum Unity from Zimbabwe was struggling to breastfeed – she knew only too well how difficult it could be. As we look forward to Mother’s Day, she shares her own breastfeeding story and explains how you can help more mums get the specialist support they need by donating this Lent.

It’s 10pm and I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter Rosa on and off for the last five hours. Rosa was born two weeks ago, and every time she tries to feed, which is about 10-12 times a day, my body tenses with pain. At times, its so painful, I cry out. And she rarely seems satisfied. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. And I’m worried that she isn’t putting on weight.

Later that night, I remember that I was given a bunch of leaflets, including information about a breastfeeding support group a short walk from my home in north London. Later that evening, I dig them out, and make an appointment for the next available session.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal so new mums living in poverty can be trained how to breastfeed

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How a vegetable garden changed my life

This Lent you may have heard about Tawanda from Zimbabwe and how hungry he was as a child. You may have heard how CAFOD helped Marian to plant a vegetable garden and how Tawanda’s little brother Svondo grew up with plenty of good food. But what happened to Tawanda?

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Tawanda. I’m 21 years old and I live in Gokwe North District with my mum, dad, two brothers and little sister.

What was your childhood like?

When I was younger, I remember being so desperate, we’d eat anything. We ate roasted groundnuts with sadza. It’s not something I’d recommend. It’s like eating salt.

What are you doing now?

I have my own vegetable plot at the community vegetable garden. I farm the plot so I can sell vegetables to buy things like clothes and shoes. I enjoy working on the plot – it’s my only way of earning money.

Donate to CAFOD so more people like Tawanda can have the chance to plant their own vegetable garden in Zimbabwe

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Can £28 really stop a family going hungry?

Sally Kitchener, from CAFOD’s communications team, recently visited Zimbabwe. She tells us how hearing a mother’s story about hunger affected her.  She also shares some good news about vegetable gardens and invites you to help tackle malnutrition by donating to the CAFOD Lent Appeal.

A few months ago, I met Marian Magumise in her home in rural Zimbabwe. After packing the children off to school just after dawn, Marian invited me to sit in her cooking hut. The embers from the fire were still warm and the smell of porridge hung in the air.

Marian told me that she hasn’t always been able to give her children a meal before school. In fact, there have been countless times – months on end – when she has had not an oat or a grain to feed them.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

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Stopping shopping for Lent

Jeremy, from our Hallam volunteer centre, has never considered himself a ‘shopaholic’. But a shiny new camera lens and a letter from the bank led him to wonder – is there more he could be doing to fight back against the culture of consumption?

I had a shock a few weeks back. For once it wasn’t the emptiness of my bank account, though that was the catalyst. Instead, I was surprised, and a little dismayed, by my powerful attachment to possessions.

A vulture in flight photographed from below by Jeremy Cain
One of Jeremy’s photos – he calls this one ‘a vulture hovering over my bank account’

Let me explain. I’m an occasionally keen amateur photographer and, as we’re planning to visit Mull after Easter, I thought it would be a good idea to buy myself a zoom lens. We’re mostly going for the birds of prey and I had dreams of getting the perfect shot of a sea eagle plucking a fish out from the water. I’d spent days scouring the internet and was on the verge of clicking the buy-it-now button when the bad news from the bank came through. Just for a moment, I was tempted to click anyway but the thought of having to explain to the kids why we had no food to eat held me back. They can be quite aggressive when they’re hungry.

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My Lenten digital detox – giving up Netflix for Lent

Fr Tim Byron SJ, from Stamford Hill is taking a digital detox and has given up Netflix for Lent. He updates us on his #GiveItUpChallenge.

So far so good. It has been surprisingly easy to wean myself off Netflix in the evening and I’m no longer suffering from excessive binge-watching.

Share your Lent challenge on Twitter

However, having allowed Lent to interrupt a couple of my favourite dramas, I do find myself wondering how Jimmy McGill is going to get himself out of his most recent pickle in Better Call Saul. Or when Carrie Mathison is going to be reunited with her daughter in Homeland. Continue reading “My Lenten digital detox – giving up Netflix for Lent”