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.
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: 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.
Elouise Hobbs from our media team shares how empty shelves during Storm Emma has given her a new perspective on Family Fast Day.
On Friday 23 February, I marked Family Fast Day like thousands of others across the country by enjoying a simple meal of soup and bread.
And, although through my simple soup meal I was able to reflect and felt solidarity with those who do not have enough to eat, the feeling was short lived – I knew that when I got home I had a fridge full of food and could eat whatever I wanted.
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.
Georgia is currently studying youth work and community development at De Montfort University in Leicester. She previously volunteered for the Nottingham Diocesan Youth Service’s retreat centre and outreach team. During the last year Georgia got the opportunity to be an ambassador for CAFOD and blog about her year.
This year for Lent Georgia will be attempting to give up social media and go on a digital detox. In order to do this, she will be giving up Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. This is going to be a real test of Georgia’s willpower because she considers herself a ‘social media addict’.
Why I am taking this challenge
I am guilty- just like many other students of being obsessed with social media and having the need to always check their phone. Whether it be trying to take the perfect selfie or boomerang for Instagram. Snapchatting my mates, following my favourite people on twitter- including Pope Francis- or just simply keeping up with my friends and family on Facebook. Continue reading “Social media detox 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?
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:
As part of Volunteers’ Week, CAFOD celebrated a special Mass to give thanks for the many people across England and Wales who volunteer. After the Mass, CAFOD director Chris Bain spoke about the passion volunteers bring to CAFOD:
We were started by women who saw things in the world that needed action, who believed that we as a Catholic community of England Wales—particularly the families of England and Wales—should do something about this, and started the very first Fast Day in 1960. They were volunteers. CAFOD was a voluntary organisation at its core right from that point onward.
We rely even today on thousands of committed volunteers in our parishes, in our schools, and around the world. All of us who work for CAFOD and are lucky enough to be paid by CAFOD should be serving those volunteers in their work.
Tom, from CAFOD’s fundraising team, challenged himself to give up hot drinks for Lent. He tells us how he got on, and reflects on how the generosity of CAFOD supporters in the UK is helping people like those he met in Kenya.
This Lent, I took on a challenge very different to my usual no-sweet-things observance. In line with CAFOD’s aqua themed fundraising appeal, I decided to take up a water challenge and drink no hot drinks for 40 days and 40 nights.
For some people this would be fairly straight forward. But I come from a long line of tea drinkers and would usually have at least 3 cups a day. A visit to my Nan’s is synonymous with having a brew, and if you were to turn one down you’d immediately be confronted with a “What’s wrong?!”
With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.
When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.
This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest. He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.