Fast to go slow: how fasting can transform you this Lent

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?

Follow CAFOD on twitter for tips on how to keep going with your Lenten fast.

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:

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A message to all those preparing to fast

Promise Simwinde Muleya works for one of our Caritas partners in Zimbabwe. As thousands of people across England and Wales prepare for CAFOD’s Family Fast Day, Promise shares a message of solidarity.

From Zimbabwe to you

To all those that are taking part in the Lent campaign, I have a special message to all of you.

I say to you, appealingly, imagine and remember the children and the breastfeeding mothers in Zimbabwe who hardly have a meal to eat each day.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

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A fruity challenge this Lent

We are Hal and Cherrie from London based east-meets-west electronic pop group Ooberfuse.

Hal Bangalore from Ooberfuse
Giving up all hot food and drinks to support CAFOD #GiveItUpChallenge

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 is giving up cherries this Lent!
Cherrie is giving up cherries this Lent!

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.

Why we are taking this challenge this Lent

We are happy to be part of the #Giveitupchallenge as an act of solidarity, to help raise funds and help support families living in poverty overseas

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“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  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.

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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.

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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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Bringing water to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, water from Chiwashira DamSally Kitchener looks at how donations to CAFOD’s first match funded appeal, during Lent 2012, brought drinking water to a remote town in Zimbabwe.

I am woken by a gentle tapping sound. It’s 5:30am. I extract myself from the tangle of my mosquito net and shuffle to unlock my door. Outside is a bucket of steaming water. It’s a welcome sight.

It’s my second day in Zimbabwe and I’m staying in Nembudzia, a remote town in Gokwe North district. My room is basic but it has everything I need – a bed, a desk, and even an en-suite bathroom. Only, the sink and shower feel a little redundant, as there’s not a drop of water in the taps.

CAFOD’s progress on water Continue reading “Bringing water to Zimbabwe”

Your Lent donations – a new chapter of life for thousands of people in poverty

As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, Jessica Coffin, CAFOD’s Communications Officer, shares a hopeful story from Zambia.

Mulenga in his wheelchair in Zambia
Donations to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal will help more people like Mulenga

In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, I came across a story. A story that was full of obstacles and hardship, but also full of hope. It reminded me of the hope that comes with Easter.

From the age of five, Mulenga lived with his grandfather in the village of Chushi in Mbala, Northern Zambia. Life was challenging. Mulenga had complex physical and mental disabilities but he did not have a wheelchair, so his only way of moving around was by rolling his body or being lifted by others.

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The fish – a symbol of hope

Kathleen O’Brien writes our resources for secondary schools, and has been thinking about our scaly underwater friends during Lent.

What does the fish symbol mean?
What does the fish symbol mean?

How often do you notice those fish symbols on the back windscreen of cars? I see them all the time. I think most people now realise that they are a Christian symbol, but perhaps don’t know why. They may think the fish is used because Jesus’ first followers were fishermen.

Meet Bob the fish from Zambia Continue reading “The fish – a symbol of hope”

My Lent challenge – giving up complaining!

Eleanor works in the Volunteer Support team at CAFOD. Here she talks about what inspired her Lent challenge this year.

CAFOD Lent appeal
From grumpy to grateful – Eleanor’s Lent challenge

7am ‘I’m so tired….urgh….why didn’t I go to bed earlier?

10am ‘How is it only 10am?! It feels like 5pm!’

1pm ‘I wish I’d brought a different lunch’

And repeat!

Looking back on some text messages I exchanged with a good friend of mine I realised that our conversations were a bit on the…whingey side! Not only that, but every conversation was an almost identical list of complaints about things that were really not worth complaining about.

Do something positive this Lent. Support our Lent Fast Day appeal.

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