Friday, 19 February 2010

CAFOD: give it up!

Amongst a certain section of the Catholic blogging community, I am afraid the title of this post is going to give the wrong impression of its contents! "Give it up!" is the strap line for CAFOD's fund raising campaign associated with its Lent fast day, not a suggestion for what you should do about CAFOD. The home page of the campaign is here, and a page with a series of videos giving ideas of how to give up something for Lent and donate to CAFOD the money saved or the sponsorship gained, is here. My favourite amongs the videos is the one about converting chocolate into bees. There is a bees nest in the wall of our block of flats which cannot be removed because of protection being given to bees as a result of recent disease causing a decimation in their numbers. But there are times I would quite happily see the back of the bees ...

CAFOD's idea is, of course, a profoundly traditional idea, and pushes two of the three major buttons for Lent, those of self-denial and of almsgiving. Those with a memory will perhaps be a little amused to see the return to "giving something up for Lent", after a certain fashion for "doing something positive instead". Self-denial can, I suspect, take both forms and still retain the character of self-denial - a choice with regard to an action, or a good to which I can justly have access, that requires of me an effort or commitment I might otherwise not make.

In a small way, this campaign also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the value of poverty in the Christian life, and this is can be more easily seen if something is given up. I refer here to a poverty that is chosen as a style of life, not the grinding poverty that is an offence to human dignity and which an organisation such as CAFOD works to overcome. This chosen poverty is an evangelical sign - it is rooted in the Gospel - and it is an eschatological sign - it indicates that our final home is not one here on earth but in heaven. It gives a supernatural dimension to the self-denial and almsgiving that are the most obvious positive points about CAFOD's Lenten campaign.

H/T Madame Evangelista.

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