Susy works in the CAFOD Theology team. Although she hasn’t always looked forward to fasting, this year she is going vegan for Lent. Here she tells us how she thinks fasting for Lent can transform her, and her relationships.
Fasting. The word doesn’t fill most people with joy. I know for me there has often been a slight dread about fasting. It is not something to look forward to, is it? Eating less, maybe giving something up that we enjoy. A sacrifice – surely it will be painful?
I think though, like anything else, how we view fasting, how we approach it, makes an awful lot of difference to the experience. When I was much younger there was a short time in my life when I fasted on bread and water once a week. I would get splitting headaches and I was always very relieved when the day was over. I saw it as perhaps helping in my relationship with God, but I don’t remember making any connections with those who struggle to have bread and water every day.
Having worked at CAFOD for fifteen years now, I see fasting in a different light. I also have a much more positive attitude towards it – it is actually something I can look forward to! Why? For four main reasons. I feel fasting can help transform me in four areas – in my relationship with God, in my relationship with others, with creation and with myself. Here’s how I see it:
We are Hal and Cherrie from London based east-meets-west electronic pop group Ooberfuse.
Hal could not really think of many specific food items that start with “H” aside from ham, hamburgers and halloumi so he thought he would just go for all “Hot” food and “Hot” drinks. This will be a real daily challenge as Hal loves his hot tea and drinks tea at least 7 times a day!
Cherrie will give up all food starting with ‘CH’ – CHicken, CHocolate, CHeese, CHips and CHerries etc.
She absolutely loves chocolates – she is a certified chocoholic, so the #Giveitupchallenge will be a tough everyday challenge for Lent. Usually post gigs and rehearsals, we all go out for fried chicken and chips, so this will be something that will need to change too.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Your Harvest donations are a vital lifeline for people all over the world. Last Harvest we introduced you to a community in Bolivia and invited you to join them in their journey towards an abundant harvest. One year into the project, Nikki Evans, CAFOD’s Bolivia Programme Officer, revisits one of the families you have helped.
Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team. Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.
My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away. I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira. CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!
Margaret Hodgson is a CAFOD school visitor and has been inspiring children to Brighten Up for Harvest Fast Day.
Are you planning to get involved with CAFOD’s Brighten Up event next week? St. Bede’s school in Darlington wanted to learn more about CAFOD’s work in El Salvador and invited me in to help them plan a Brighten Up fundraiser. It was the first time they had invited CAFOD into their school and so I was more than delighted to visit!
I’m Lizzie, I’ve just finished a placement at Just Youth in Salford as part of the Step into the Gap programme. Last Harvest I had a great experience speaking at Mass for Harvest Fast Day – I hope you will do the same this year!
During our training weekend for the Step into the Gap programme, we found out that we would have the chance to speak for CAFOD at Mass at both Harvest and Lent for Fast Day. Back in July this seemed a long time away, but it came around really quickly and before I knew it, it was time to organise our talks.
Preparing to speak at Mass
Although we were a bit nervous it’s actually really easy to prepare for speaking at Mass. The short talk is available on the website, along with lots of other great resources for Harvest. There are even resources specifically for young people planning to speak at Mass. If you’d like to meet up with other volunteers and local CAFOD staff in your area for you can go along to the Harvest briefings which are held in dioceses across England and Wales.