JUSTeach Newsletter

March 2004

social justice education

"Pray, Fast, Give Alms" ... and Act Justly!

Lenten Practices Old and New

 Each Lent, Catholic educators perhaps seek a blend of traditional and new practices for their own spiritual growth and that of their students.  Many Catholic and Christian “religious ed” and other resources offer new ideas for living the Biblical call to pray, fast and give alms during Lent -- and increasingly emphasize social justice themes as well. 

As effective as any other resources today may be the Lenten Operation Rice Bowl (ORB) program and other educational materials from Catholic Relief Services.  CRS continues to add classroom and family ideas to its already extensive website with special "Kids' Site" (www.catholicrelief.org), ORB guide- books, and Teacher’s Lesson Plans.  The ORB Lenten Calendar and CRS' new Advocacy efforts offer students and families many opportunities to act for justice for poor and hungry people here and abroad this Lent … while faithfully observing the Lenten traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  

Listed below are several Lenten resources from CRS and other organizations that we especially recommend.  The Lenten Prayer for Operation Rice Bowl 2004 is especially vivid and powerful, we think: 

“O Lord – In my prayer, make me a hungry child – that I may know solidarity with the poor.In my fast, make me an empty bowl – that you may fill the hollow space in me with love.In my almsgiving, make me a grain of rice – that in the company of others, my gifts may feeda starving world.  We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.” 

As we enter this holy time of the Season of Lent, let us pray for one another and our students … that we may journey together in faith, justice and concern for our brothers and sisters at home and worldwide. 

With the prayers and support of the Peace and Social Justice staff, 

Mary Jeanne Lindinger-Olsen

Associate for Parish Outreach


Catholic Relief Services Resources

1)      The Kids’ Site section (geared to Grades 3-8) of the CRS website includes 6 “Take It With You” pages under Activities which can be printed and reproduced, including puzzles, coloring sheets, etc. focused on various countries. 

2)      The Teacher’s Resources section, also found in the Kids’ Site, includes a guide and curricula to supplement the games/activities – and also extensive, detailed, grade-appropriate Lesson Plans. 

3)      Included in the Operation Rice Bowl section on the website are:  quizzes on “World Awareness” and “ORB History”; personal stories from people helped by CRS funds in the U.S. and abroad; and recipes for simple meals from various countries. 

4)      Besides the cardboard “rice bowls” and Home Calendar Guide included in the 2004 ORB Kit, the Community and Parish Guide and the Educator’s Guide include many creative and helpful materials:  the Parish Guide (also available on-line) features a student placemat with CRS and World Poverty facts, Scripture quotes and a Word Search … Lenten “Prayer Eggs” focused on people in different countries … and an ORB-based “Stations of the Cross” (on-line only); the Educator’s Guide includes new Lesson Plans for 4 different countries (each with 4 different grade levels) and a helpful “If you only have 10 minutes …” version for each! 

Diocese of Erie Lenten Calendar 

The Catholic Diocese of Erie, PA offers a “Lenten Family Calendar 2004,” similar to the one for Advent.  It was prepared by the Parish Social Ministry/Respect Life Office of Catholic Charities, and includes Scripture quotes, Catholic Social Teaching principles, and prayer, charity or justice suggestions for each day of Lent.  The Calendar can be downloaded from the diocesan website:  www.eriercd.org/charities.asp

Center of Concern Resources 

The Center of Concern, a study center in Washington, DC focusing on faith and global justice issues, offers Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings from a social justice perspective (www.coc.org/focus/ej/reflections.html) and several “Stations of the Cross” reflections based on the struggles of migrants or persons with AIDS or other vulnerable groups (www.coc.org/calendar, and select one of the Sundays of Lent to access the Stations of the Cross prayers).  It also offers prayer suggestions and background information for the Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Abp. Oscar Romero on March 24th.