Young adults prepared for Lent with simple meals, stations

    “In baptism our bodies become temples, dwelling places for God. No longer slaves to violence, our bodies are now instruments of justice and reconciliation.  With our bodies we promise to make peace by nonviolently resisting evil. With our bodies we promise to create a sacred space that brings life to a weary, war-torn world.”
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I read these words during the 10th Station, “Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments” during the Stations of the Cross led by the Office of Young Adult Ministry at Holy Name of Jesus Church.
    While making this proclamation, I reflected on and renewed my baptismal commitment to follow Jesus, resist evil and strive for God’s kingdom here on earth – a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
    The Stations of the Cross event at Holy Name, along with a similar one held the following evening at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Mandeville, provided a crescendo within a series of Lenten young adult activities that called me into deeper communion with God and all people, especially those marginalized and impoverished.
    At the beginning of the Lenten season, I joined others from the young adult community at Our Lady of the Lake Church for Mass, a simple meal and conversation about living simply and striving for solidarity with our sisters and brothers worldwide. We were all given rice bowls as a part of Catholic Relief Services’  Rice Bowl program. Utilizing the prayers, simple meal recipes and opportunities for almsgiving of the rice bowl program became a central spiritual practice of mine.
    I also had the opportunity to join other simple meals hosted at people’s homes and parishes throughout the archdiocese. At these meals, we joined in fellowship with one another while discussing global hunger and our call to love all people.  
    The questions posed to the group included:
    ➤ The National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) has said that “Eating is a Moral Act.” Have you thought about eating as a moral act?  What does this mean for you in your life?
    ➤ How can we live in solidarity with the 925 million people living with chronic hunger if our daily reality differs from theirs?
    ➤ 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table.  How do we both respond to hunger here in the United States and around the world? Do you know where your food comes from? Does the way in which workers and the earth are treated in the production process influence your food choices?  Have you ever gone out of your way to choose a fair trade and/or organic food option?
    ➤ The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches us that “The Eucharist Commits us to the Poor” (No. 1397).  How does the Eucharist call us to form community?  
    These questions challenged us, yet we found hope in our community that sought to follow Jesus and live out our baptismal call to make God’s kingdom real here on earth.
    We also brought these global concerns to prayer:
    “God of the oppressed and marginalized, we long to see your face. You tell us ‘whatever you did for one of these least you did for me.’ May we recognize you in each of our sisters and brothers.  May our prayers, fasting, almsgiving, and action unite us with those who hunger. May we live simply so that others may simply live. May we share in the vulnerability and brokenness that is inherent in the lives of so many of your people. In so doing, may we be a part of bringing ‘thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’ as we live in the hope of joy, goodness, and communion.”
    Throughout this Lenten season, thanks to the offerings of the Office of Young Adult Ministry, I’ve had amazing opportunities to join with others in community and strive to ever more unite my will with God’s will.
    The full stations of the cross reflection by Megan McKenna can be found at  educationforjustice.org/pdfs/ej/peacestations.pdf. Other organizations mentioned: www.crsricebowl.org; www.ncrlc.com; www.bread.org.
    Nick Albares is parish social  ministry coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace.

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