Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Operation Rice Bowl Continues: week 4 of Lent

Fourth Week of Lent: Solidarity Will Transform the World


Located in Central America, Honduras is a resource-rich country that also struggles with the devastating effects of tropical storms and political conflict. More than one-third of the workforce is in agriculture, most as subsistence farmers. Through its Natural Resource programming, Catholic Relief Services helps farmers, like Martín Reyes Granados, to develop sustainable methods of farming, increasing their yield so they can sell their surplus.


What do we see when we look at the world with the light of Christ? We see a world so beloved by God that God entered our human existence in order to dwell in it with us. We see a world that sings of the presence of the divine, in its abundance, its beauty, its creative genius. And we see a world that continues to suffer as it waits for the peace, justice and common good promised in God’s reign. As Nicodemus discovered when he visited Jesus under the cover of darkness, if you want to associate with the Son of God, you have to be willing to walk with him into the light of day and get to work. In your prayer this week, express your gratitude for the many blessings that God has placed in your world. At the same time, reflect on the work that is still to be done, the suffering and need that occur right before us in the light of day. Ask God to give you the courage to respond with the compassionate light of Christ.


People are not the only ones to suffer from injustices, from imbalances of power, from conflict and greed. The earth suffers too as it is worked in ways that are not sustainable, as it is deforested, eroded, poisoned and paved over. This week, let your fast express care of the earth. Fast from foods that are produced in wasteful or inhumane ways and instead eat foods that are produced locally using sustainable and ethical methods. Fast from modes of transportation that pollute and waste resources, and instead walk, bike, carpool or take the bus. Fast from purchasing items that are over packaged, and instead bring your own bags to the grocery store or buy used items from a local non-profit thrift store. Fast from purchasing items that are produced using unfair labor conditions, and instead purchase items that are certified as Fair Trade.


Martín Reyes Granados learned he did not have to go it alone as a small subsistence cattle farmer living in Estancias, Honduras. By attending the CRS-sponsored Country School for Small Farmers, he found himself in a network of support and learning that helped him to change his farming practices and improve his entire agricultural community. The school teaches small farmers to learn from one another and share experiences and experimentation. After joining the school, Granados went from owning a small herd of cows that barely produced milk to running a small but productive dairy farm. Today he is working to improve his community and region as the president of a local dairy co-op and a member of the Fair Trade Network in Honduras.


This week, free up some money for your Rice Bowl while implementing some cost-saving green principles in your own home. Here are several suggestions: * Instead of purchasing paper towels to clean up messes, cut up several old towels and t-shirts to make a pile of rags to keep in the kitchen and bathrooms. Drop them into a basket after you’ve used them, so you can wash and reuse them. Need a little extra scrubbing power? Wrap a rag in a plastic mesh fruit bag, the kind that oranges come in. These can be reused over and over again.

* Instead of purchasing window and counter cleaner, put a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. You can use this everywhere, from sinks to counters to windows. For your windows and mirrors, use newspaper instead of using paper towels.

* Instead of buying powdered cleansers, pull out the baking soda and the borax for a little extra scrubbing power.

* Instead of throwing the laundry in the drier with softening sheets, hang it outside to dry and to be freshened by the sun.

Put the money that you didn’t spend into your Rice Bowl this week.

Monies collected from Operation Rice Bowl, collected in the parishes during Holy Week, are split between local (25%) and international (75%) efforts.  The local amount remains in the Diocese of Youngstown for small grants to parishes and groups working to relieve hunger.  The 75% goes to Catholic Relief Services to provide humanitarian and long term development efforts around the world.  Thanks for your generosity.

Filed under: consumerism, Culture, Market Place, Personal Reflections, Social Justice, Spirituality

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