By Lydia O’Kane
The phrase “What are you giving up?” is a common one at the start of Lent. Many people will forgo things like chocolate, coffee or meat. But what about doing something that will have a lasting impact on the planet?
This Lent the Catholic development charity for England and Wales, CAFOD is inviting people to do something that benefits our common home. Its Director, Christine Allen, notes that more people are looking at other ways of participating in the season of Lent.
“It’s changed a little bit from being just about giving up… to also doing more positive things and that obviously includes prayer, but it also includes things that will make a much more positive impact on other people’s lives.”
The development charity has also come up with some “eco fasting” ideas over these 40 days, one of which is buying no new clothes.
“There’s lots of things people can do during Lent and we don’t want to be prescriptive about it; clothes are a really good example”, says the CAFOD Director. “You can either just not buy new clothes, you can get new clothes from a charity shop … But it is about being more sustainable in our world…”
As part of CAFOD’s Lenten campaign, supporters will be raising money through a host of activities that will go towards supporting CAFOD’s work with local experts, such as Sister Consilia in Zimbabwe, who is a qualified pharmacist.
Sr Consilia works in Gokwe, an area suffering the worst drought in generations, where malnourished mothers give birth to dangerously underweight babies. “She’s giving back to her community and we stand alongside her, says Ms Allen. “People across England and Wales by supporting CAFOD, are able to stand in solidarity with her.”
Impact of Climate
This Lent young people in England and Wales are being invited by CAFOD to focus on the impact of climate change and raise awareness of an issue very close to the Pope’s heart, the Amazon.
The CAFOD chief highlights that “for the younger school students it’s about understanding the loss of the Amazon and for the older school students its understanding and meeting some of the people who are defending the Amazon; the young human rights defenders”.
“Lent is a time for prayer, reflection and fasting”, Ms Allen says, and it’s about “recognizing our place in the world and our humility again; our humility towards God; and recognizing, as Pope Francis has said to us ‘we’re not here to abuse the earth, we’re here to cherish that gift that God gives us’”.