Lenten Youth Project: Children Feeding Children

“This is the acceptable time for you to arise and begin your journey, dear friend. This long, often dark, and usually strange journey—which all in search of God must undertake—is a journey inward; for He dwells within you. He is within all who have been baptized in His name, and who abide in the state of His grace.”

Above is the opening paragraph from an article entitled, “Now is the Acceptable Time,” written by Catherine Doherty in 1955, reprinted in the January 2024 issue of the publication Restoration.

Catherine goes on to reflect on the journey of Epiphany, using the images of gold, frankincense, and myrrh along with the “surrender” necessary to imitate Mary. Catherine ends the article with a rather poignant thought, “There is no way to Jesus but through Mary. Without Mary, there would be no Christmas, nor Epiphany. No magi, no kings …The star is Mary. Without Mary, we would have no Golgotha, nor Cross, nor Easter! Without Mary, you would not be a Catholic, nor would I.”

As we enter into the Lenten Season on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, let Mary be our companion along our 40-day journey that leads us to the Cross and the empty tomb! Now is the acceptable time to enter into prayer with Mary. I suggest the Stations of the Cross, a beautiful Lenten tradition in so many parishes (an article on the Stations of the Cross may be found in this issue on p. 10). Look also for opportunities for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament or for reading the Sacred Scriptures.

Now is the acceptable time to enter into fasting with Mary. Whatever form your fasting may take —fasting from food, television, social media, or socializing during Lent, fill up that time with Mary, praying the rosary. Now is the acceptable time to enter into acts of charity with Mary. Recall her words at the Wedding in Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.” Let not some random act of kindness go undone. Don’t turn away from the person in need on the street corner. Look for some way to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing and housing to those who lack the things we often take for granted: Lent 2024 is full of promise!

On January 5, Pope Francis challenged a group of pilgrims from Florence, Italy: “Be close to the people we help. … When you give to the poor, do you look in the eyes of the person, touch their hand, or throw the money there? Touch, touch poverty, touch, encourage them to develop a heart that touches, to look and to understand.” These words are similar to what he said on his first visit to South America, “When you see the poor, look them in the eyes and talk to them.” Now is the acceptable time because the works of mercy never end!

In that spirit, the funds raised in this year’s Lenten Youth Project will be used to feed the poor of southern Missouri directly through five food pantries scattered “from east to west,” in southern Missouri. Those pantries include Sacred Heart, Webb City; Saint Joseph, Springfield; Saint Sylvester, Eminence; St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, and Ste. Marie du Lac, in Ironton. As so many of our parishes participate in local food pantries, it was difficult to decide which ones to support, but I think these particular pantries are a good representation of the commitment of our diocese in serving the poor and feeding the hungry.

It may be hard to believe but statistics tell us that 21% of children in the Ozarks face food insecurity. That figure, one in five children, is higher than the Missouri average. These children often go to bed hungry and wake up the next morning not knowing when they will have their next meal. They go to school hungry and have difficulty learning because of being hungry. They may or may not qualify for a reduced lunch and when they come home from school, the refrigerator is empty. I call upon all the youth of our diocese during this 2024 Lenten Youth Project to rise to the challenge and do what you can to raise funds for these hungry children and the pantries scattered throughout our diocese that serve them. Let’s make a difference in childhood hunger.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the February 02, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: Getty Images