CRS Rice Bowl - Why We're on Board for Lent 2013

CRS Rice Bowl

CRS Rice Bowl

Believe it or not, Lent will be here before we know it. Typically, I’m one of those who has a love/hate relationship with this particular liturgical season. I love the increased focus on prayer and almsgiving, and the opportunity to take stock of my spiritual life prior to Ash Wednesday. But I struggle with fasting — all too often I’ve tied my fasting to more of a “self improvement” mindset than to something spiritually substantive.

That’s why I’m so happy that this year, our family will for the very first time be participating in Catholic Relief Services’ fantastic Rice Bowl program. Here’s the blueprint:

A cardboard or homemade CRS Rice Bowl is used to collect your Lenten alms. These donations will put “rice” into the empty bowls of our hungriest brothers and sisters. It serves as a concrete reminder of the world’s poor and Jesus’ call to serve them. A CRS Rice Bowl is also for you – it is inspiration for your Lenten journey. Daily reflectionsweekly prayers, and stories of hope from around the world will enrich your relationship with God during this liturgical season and challenge you to live in solidarity with our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

rice-bowl-logo-english-crs-rice-bowl-2013I picked up our Rice Bowl while attending this year’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall Assembly. I was fortunate enough to hear Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson and Catholic Relief Services’ board chair present the newly revamped Rice Bowl program to his brother bishops. I love the fact that by being a part of Rice Bowl, we tie our small sacrificial giving to the larger global community. I love the amazingly simple recipes offered on the website and the abundant family activities for all ages. I love that our family will decide together a family fast and that our mutual commitment to God and one another will be helping families just like ours who greatly need love and support.

I hope you’ll consider joining me in being a part of Rice Bowl 2013. If your parish, school or diocese has a program, be on the lookout for the chance to pick up your own Rice Bowl. But if they don’t you can still be a part of the program by making your own Rice Bowl or ordering a free one to be sent to you. You could even step up to be the person who brings Rice Bowl to your parish, school or diocese.

During the weeks leading up to Lent and as we move prayerfully through the season, you’ll see other bloggers discussing their involvement in Rice Bowl 2013. I look forward to sharing our family’s experience with you here as we move forward and ask you to prayerfully consider being a part of something so special, with so much potential to change lives.

In closing, I will leave you with the Rice Bowl prayer that our family will recite this Lent:

Let us pray.
Abundant God,
Help us this Lent to let go of those things that weigh us down.
May our prayers and sacrifices bring us closer to your Son, Jesus,
And help bring life to our brothers and sisters who struggle with hunger and poverty.
May we proclaim the dignity of life, and celebrate the witness of your love each day.

Won’t you join us?

Visit for more information

Copyright 2013 Lisa M. Hendey


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.


  1. Elizabeth Belk on

    Lisa…can we continue to give to CRS when they are contributing to organizations that promote and provide services that oppose the teachings of our Catholic Faith? I’ve heard several accounts of CRS giving thousands of our donated dollars to groups who support abortion and contraception. I am dismayed by the number of Catholic institutions that continue to give our money to the groups who oppose the Catholic Church.

    • Elizabeth, I thank you for raising this important question. I’m going to invite a CRS official to respond “officially” but I did want to acknowledge your concerns as I’ve heard them echoed from others. I can only assure you that I have prayerfully considered our families participation, taking my cues from the fact that I sat in a room full of Bishops, with a Bishop presenting the information on Rice Bowl, and that I heard firsthand the good being done by this program, and the lives being saved. If the Bishops did not stand in line with CRS, I would perhaps have come to a different conclusion. But it is clear to me that this program has their backing. That being said, obviously every family must decide for themselves the charities that they will support and we can and should carefully discern our decisions. I will definitely ask CRS to follow up here to help bring more information about your concerns. But I also know that your family will likely be performing other almsgiving efforts during Lent, and that too will be a blessing. Again, thank you for airing your concerns and let’s pray together for the many in our world who so desperately need our love and support.

      • Elizabeth Belk on

        I contacted our archdiocese office and was sent a link from CRS that explained the accusations and clarified the issues.
        I’m sorry I didn’t check there first, but I happen to read your article and the other one within minutes of each other and reacted to quickly. I had heard statements about CRS last year and it looks like these are the same accusations. God bless you and your family.

    • Patrick Carney on

      Catholic Relief Services, an organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a pro-life organization dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Every aspect of our work is to help life flourish. We are resolute in our commitment to the Church and its teaching.

      Over the past months, CRS has been the target of a coordinated series of attacks, condemning aspects of our work, our partners, professional associations, and even some of our employees. We want to be clear that we are open to and welcome correction, presented to us by people and organizations who offer it in the spirit of Christian charity and with the intention of helping us to live the Gospel mission of serving the poorest of the poor around the world. In substance and tone, these recent unrelenting attacks are not helpful. They attempt to cause division in the Body of Christ. This is harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause.

      It is true that CRS works with groups which do not share our Catholic values. We employ non-Catholics as well as Catholics. We belong to coalitions which extend the reach of services to the poor often in remote areas where we do not operate. We are members of professional associations so as to obtain information and technological advances so that we are best prepared to serve those who are in our care. When these associations offer programs which run contrary to Church teachings, we do not participate. Our membership in these coalitions gives us a platform to present effective methods and procedures that demonstrate the efficacy of Catholic approaches to health and family planning. These are our opportunities to make space in the public for the Catholic viewpoint and to witness to our faith.

      We have more information that responds to specific allegations at this link:

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