One of my favorite parts of being Catholic during Lent has been the rice bowl program. It used to be Operation Rice Bowl, but this year it got a name change and a facelift: it’s CRS Rice Bowl now, but the same great program by the same amazing people.
I started paying attention to what the Rice Bowl program was all about when I began designing and editing our parish bulletin. It turns out that the CRS folks had put together great weekly items for Lent! And wow, there were (still are) ways to put numbers and meaning to the pennies and quarters and dollars that go into the rice bowls!
I started mentioning things and highlighting the various points with my religious education classes.
And then this year, we had a special Rice Bowl program with all of our religious education classes together.
That’s when it really clicked for me and when I realized how I can take our Rice Bowl to the next level.
In addition to praying for our brothers and sisters in poorer parts of the country, we can raise our awareness of the real plights they face. We can see their joy despite their circumstances, and we can see how we can be changed by them, even as our seemingly small donations can make such a huge difference to real, actual people.
When we consider the three pillars–fasting, prayer, and almsgiving–it all comes together so naturally with the Rice Bowl. And this year, with my oldest daughter aware of Lent in a way she never has been before, with a First Communion in front of us the weekend after Easter, with so much happening in the world…this year, CRS Rice Bowl feels like just the thing for Lent.
Oh yes, I’ll be trying other things (how can I not?), but the foundation of our Lenten practices as a family. When I fast for Lent, it will be those who benefit from CRS funds who come to mind.
And even when I’m whiny and mentally weak, even when it’s harder than it should be and seemingly unimportant, even when it’s just another day of Lent…even then–and all the other times between–I’ll know that it matters. In the solidarity of our faith, I find the strength to lean on Jesus during Lent…and beyond.
Do you use CRS Rice Bowl? I’d love to hear about it!
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I also found this great video from CRS starring none other than Fr. Leo Patalinghug of Grace Before Meals (who I’ll be seeing in a few weeks!). Enjoy!
Notes from email:
- You can structure the post any way you’d like. Here are some possible topics:
- Why do you participate in CRS Rice Bowl? What do you and your family get out of the experience? Why would you recommend it to others?