“I’d like to pray for every person who has not even had a piece of bread today.” Andrea*, 12, Teresa Toda Home** resident, Azua, Dominican Republic
Lent is a time to simplify in many ways, including our diets. We give up meat on Fridays, or candy, or other indulgences. One of the reasons we do this is to empathize with our hungry brothers and sisters. When Andrea offered the above prayer at our evening reflection, she was not thinking about some abstract “poor”. She was thinking about her parents, her sisters and brothers, her neighbors, all who may or may not have had a chance to eat that day. At the Home, she has plenty and I believe she cannot forget those who are not so fortunate.
3 O’Clock Dinner
In neighborhoods like hers, the poorest, or any family going through a rough time, typically eat one meal a day. Beginning in the morning, the children collect grains, vegetables, bones, and other edibles. They contribute their findings to a pot of boiling water. The typical pots are 1 ½ quart sauce pans. Families would share this one meal at 3 PM. Picture a family of a mother and father, grandmother, 3 kids and one pregnant daughter sharing this small amount of food. This is not one of their three meals, plus snacks in a day. This is the only meal of the day. They eat this and are still hungry.
When a new girl joins the home, she is typically small. Six year olds look like our 3 or 4 year olds. The Sisters and the other girls (who remember their first days well) encourage the new girl to eat. One day after reading Nancy Carlson’s classic book “Dream Big” at camp, everyone good heartedly prodded the new girl, Julia*, to “Eat Big”. I will never forget the look of that tiny girl with big eyes staring at the mountain of chicken, rice, and beans on her plate.
Senor, te damos gracias por el pan que nos has dado/ Lord, we give you thanks for the bread that you have given us.
Daselo a todos aquellos que no lo tienen/ Give it to all those who do not have it.
Bendice las manos que lo han preparado/ Bless the hands that have prepared it.
Por Jesu Cristo, Nuestro Senor /In Jesus Christ, our Lord,
This prayer is said before every meal at the Home. Maybe this Lenten season, you can say this prayer, too, at your home. Think about the girls at the Home, their families, our Nicaraguan sisters and brothers, as well as all the hungry here in Bloomington and around the world.
*The names of the girls have been changed for privacy.
** The Teresa Toda Home is our Sister Parish in the Dominican Republic. It is a girls’ home for the most destitute girls in the country. The home is run by Carmelite nuns. Church of Saint Edward parishioners lead an annual summer camp for the girls at the home. July 2015 will be our 12th camp. Contact Ann McGuire at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in traveling or supporting the program in other ways. Check the bulletin for the kick-off meeting.