This Lent, Give, Don’t Give Up

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The tradition is to “give up” something important to us for the 40 days until Easter as a gesture of sacrifice. The coronavirus pandemic caused us to give up so much during 2020 and these early days of 2021, we suggest that we follow Pope Francis’ call to “work together for the common good.”

We will use the seven Corporal Works of Mercy to guide things you can do to help others this Lent. Each week, we will share a different Corporal Work with you with suggestions for how you can live out the works and do for others, even during a pandemic that restricts our interactions with others. Because when you follow the Works of Mercy, Mercy Works!

The Corporal Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry

Give Drink to the thirsty

Shelter the Homeless

Clothe the Naked

Visit the Sick

Visit the Imprisoned

Bury the Dead

According to the US Conference of Bishops, the Corporal Works of Mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and serve as a model for how we should treat others. The Corporal works refer to our responsibility as Christians to see to the bodily needs of our neighbors.

Signs of Hope! 

By Sister Geraldine Ching 

Throughout the gospels, we find stories of how Jesus fed people. According to Scripture, Jesus performed miracles and multiplied food from a few fish and some loaves of bread, and fed thousands of people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if, during this pandemic—a time of quarantine, a time of limited access to food, that we would be able to carry on Jesus’ legacy? Like St. Marianne Cope, St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii answered such a call during this crisis.   

Our Healthcare System facilitates food security on the island of Oahu. Through diverse funding — federal, county, state, city, private, etc. — we deliver 1000 meals per day with 50 drivers. Each meal is delivered lovingly by Board members, corporate lawyers, employees, and other volunteers. Since the pandemic began, more than 175,000 meals have gone to those in need. Some of our sisters have been involved in prepping, cooking, and packaging the meals.   

The educator, par excellence! Jesus Christ knew that his message would be relevant only if people’s human needs were met. While meals are being delivered, drivers make a quick assessment: Does the person live totally alone? Is there evidence of further needs — medical, mental, spiritual? Our Franciscan Plus program sends a social worker if necessary. Through this program, our clients can have some of their needs met and live a better quality of life. Our motto: Live Every Moment! is practiced by all.   

During this Lenten season, let us continue to heed the words of Jesus Christ: “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.” 

NOTE: During 11 months, the program served 175,000 meals and helped several of the partner restaurants stay in business during the pandemic shutdown. 

Give Drink to the Thirsty

By Sister Martha Torbik

In reflecting on our Lenten theme of “Mercy Works!” I was drawn back to a visit I made at the Gettysburg National Military Park a few years ago. My Licensed Battlefield Guide, Ed Guy, was exceptional, sharing interesting and uncommon information. An example: battle casualties were so massive, and supplies, even blankets, in such very short supply that the seriously wounded were simply but sadly left to die of their injuries.

After the tour, Ed told me he wrote a Divine Mercy Chaplet based on acts of compassion during and after the battle. One was of a wounded soldier covered with a blanket and placed next to a shivering soldier (in July). He didn’t have a blanket because his injuries were grievous, and it was felt he’d die soon. The wounded soldier used his blanket to cover the dying soldier. The man passed soon after, greatly comforted by another’s compassion.

The Pandemic offers unique opportunities to show compassion and caring to others. Our formal Corporal Works of Mercy give us the framework…the unexpected situations all around us give us the ways. See how concrete or creative you can be as Lent unfolds… Give drink to the thirsty can be so much more than extending a cup of water:

  • Donate to and tell others about The Navajo Water Projectwhich brings water to homes on the Navajo Nation without indoor plumbing, an urgent need when hand cleansing is so critical. *See video:
  • Advocate for The Clean Water for All Campaignand add your voice to the millions of Americans who want to protect clean water:
  • Stop water pollution and help strengthen protections of our water resources by “Taking Action” with and/or donate to Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization fighting for a healthy environment for all – “As officials hear from Earthjustice attorneys in court, outside the courtroom, they’re hearing from you”:
  • For just $35.00, you can give a family in the U.S. or another country a new Hand-washing Stationand all the needed materials and maintenance for one year. Go here.

Video – watch here