Lent: Making space for daily reflection

Nalini Nathan, who coordinates our work with supporters, reflects on the challenge of making time for daily reflection throughout Lent. This year she has been following the CAFOD online Lent calendar, and here she shares her thoughts.

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Lent reflection: A future transformed

In this reflection on the Transfiguration of the Lord (Luke 9:28-36), taken from our Lent calendar, Catherine from our Theology team reflects on how lives can be transformed by hope.  

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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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Lent reflection: The shadow of hunger looms

In this reflection on Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Luke 4:1-13) taken from our Lent calendar, Catherine from our Theology team considers the dark shadow that hunger can cast on people’s lives.

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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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‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’

Amy is a blogger that took up the challenge of giving up ‘Bad words’ over the Lent period, to help spread the word about our Lent appeal. Just after Easter, she told us how the challenge had humbled her and helped bring her closer to God.

The end of Lent has come and gone and it is time to reflect on what the last 40 days have truly been about.  This journey started for me because I felt like God was telling me that there was an area of my life that I needed to submit to Him.  He needed to refine it.  A verse that had a powerful impact on me was Luke 6 v 45. It had never occurred to me that bad language could reflect a poor state of your heart. It pained me to know that my heart might not be as it should be.

I can honestly say God has drawn me closer through this journey of Lent. Even during the moments when I have struggled with the challenge I have felt closer to Him.  What surprised me about the struggles of this challenge is that when they came along they appeared like the serpent with the apple.  They were covered in the ripe red skin of a juicy apple and I took a bite without hesitation. This lack of hesitation came from my own pride and sinfulness.

As we approach Pentecost, we pray that the Holy Spirit may work through us as we seek to transform the world. Prayers for Pentecost

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Coping without social media

Georgia, a student at De Montfort University in Leicester, has been on a digital detox for Lent, giving up all forms of social media. She told us how she’s got on with her Give It Up Challenge.

At the time of writing this blog I am 33 days into not using Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I can’t believe I have come this far- the end is near.

This Lenten challenge has definitely been one of the toughest ones that I have decided to take on. I have found that the most difficult part of the challenge so far is feeling disconnected. The dreaded ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) has always been in the back of my mind. I’ve found that I’ve missed Facebook the most- practically anyway. It is hard having to rely on people to relay information you need whether that be for events or notifications from my sports team. I wouldn’t say its my favourite social media app- but the most useful for my everyday life.

The reaction I have had to this challenge has been “are you crazy?”, “what do you do on your phone then?”. I have to admit these were my first thoughts when I began contemplating the idea. I think the most unexpected thing however is that I don’t miss it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. It has just caused minor inconveniences. I definitely haven’t felt like I have been missing out on anything socially like I did before with seeing people’s snapchat and Instagram stories. Because if its not there to see there is no FOMO.  This realization has definitely emphasized how people’s online persona is so different from their reality.

See our favourite Easter prayers

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What Easter means to me

This Holy Week, Catherine Gorman from CAFOD’s Theology team reflects on what Easter means to her, and how hope can transform lives.

Easter is swiftly approaching. It is a time of joy, when hope and faith are renewed. The long waiting of Lent is almost over, and finally the time to celebrate will be here. The light of the risen Christ shines through all ages, breathing new life, bringing mercy and conquering darkness.

See our favourite Easter prayers

It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves, to feel like we have to do everything on our own. I know, for instance, that I am often unwilling to ask for help. I prefer struggle on, getting more and more frustrated and disheartened, than to burden anyone else with my difficulties.

Finally, I snap at whoever is nearest, and whichever friend or loved one is bearing the brunt of my rage says, “Why didn’t you ask? I can help you.” Just as I would, if the situation were reversed. I feel foolish for not having believed in the love that others have for me, for not counting myself worthy of their kindness.

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Get the most out of your Lent donation

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Lent Appeal. Your gifts will change lives around the world. And if you donated between 13 February and 12 May, the UK Government will double your donation, giving twice the number of children the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. Match funding for the appeal has now ended but you can still donate

Runa Begum is a volunteer in CAFOD’s digital team. She tells us why she was so impressed by the opportunity to have your donation doubled this lent, and by CAFOD supporters who continue to donate generously.

For the last few years I have been thinking more about donating with maximum impact – giving so my money goes further to needy causes. I often research the projects charities fund to see how far my pound can go. I think a lot of other people are feeling similar – we want our charitable donations to go as far as possible and to do as much good as possible.

Money raised for CAFOD’s Family Fast Day appeal this Lent will definitely do as much good as possible. Donations will be match funded by the UK Government which means your donation will be doubled, at no extra cost to you. More importantly, it means your gift will have double the impact in communities in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and around the world.

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What Giving up ‘Bad language’ for Lent is teaching me

Blogger Amy has taken up the challenge of giving up ‘Bad words’ this Lent. She tells us how she is getting on and what this challenge is teaching her.

I have now done just over four weeks of my Lent challenge and I have been surprised and amazed each day by my journey so far. I am so humbled by how God has met me in this time.  Each week I have learned something new and been pointed in a new direction. Even in the difficult moments it has still been a joy to experience. I love the fact that God is graciously taking the time to change me.  Change is hard and discipline is even harder. However, I truly think that when God disciplines us this is an expression of love and affection.

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