Solidarity can be a difficult concept to understand. It is a determination to commit oneself to the good of others and in some way sharing in their concerns. Fasting can be an act of solidarity where we decide to ‘be alongside’ those who have no choice but to go hungry.
Fasting is a common practice among many religions and has been part of our faith for millennia. It is encouraged in Lent alongside prayer and almsgiving (giving to others – usually those in need). Fasting is an act of solidarity but also a good spiritual discipline. It isn’t the same as dieting which is done for health reasons.
Recently the church has asked people not so much to give something up for Lent, but to take something up – do something extra. This could be prayer, helping at a food bank or arranging events at church. Usually it is an act of service or love to benefit others.
Explain to your family that today they are going to miss a meal/eat a more basic meal. They will do this to explore what it is like to go without – something many people across the world have to do. The money that is saved through fasting can be sent to CAFOD to help with their work to end hunger and help people who live in poverty to flourish.
If anyone has any medical conditions which means that missing a meal is not a good idea then please do not do it. For those who can’t miss a meal, it is always possible to have a simple or plain meal.
For younger children
We suggest you fast by having a simpler meal than usual, such as rice and beans. Discuss with your family how they would feel eating this regularly. You may want to say the Fast Day prayer as a grace before the meal. Alternatively you may wish to make a grace dice (link here).
For older children
You may choose to miss a meal
- It is still good to gather the family together for an activity. This could be praying for people who have no food, writing a grace before meals or learning about a particular country. Normally each Fast Day has a focus on a particular country and family. You could spend time reading about that family and the issues they deal with.
- You can then donate the money you save to CAFOD. You can do this through the CAFOD website or at your local Church.