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Left Hand…Right Hand…All Hands

Left Hand…Right Hand…All Hands

By Sr. Denise Herrmann, CSA, Pastoral Associate & Director of Liturgy and RCIA

“…do not let your left hand know what your right is doing...” This line is from the familiar Gospel we hear every Ash Wednesday for the start of Lent. This injunction from Jesus to his disciples is in regard to giving alms. In other words, as the Gospel says, “…your almsgiving [is to] be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Almsgiving, fasting, and prayer are the traditional disciplines of Lent. Each Catholic takes on these disciplines in his/her own way to prepare oneself to be purified, converted from sin, and ready for the celebration of Easter. Also each parish can embody these disciplines, in which case then, the actions of the left and right hands do become visible for the sake of the community.

For almost 20 years the St. Maria Goretti Youth Ministry has been extending their left and right hands into the various tasks of the Soup and Bread Meals on Ash Wednesday. This service project started as only an evening meal served to parishioners after the 5:15 Mass on Ash Wednesday. As the years have gone by and the current Parish Hall was built, the lunch soup and bread meal was added for the parishioners who attend the 12:15 Mass.

Besides providing to the parish a simple meatless meal on the first day of Lenten fasting, a goal of the service project is the opportunity for the middle schoolers in the Youth Ministry program to give back to the parish. The students set the tables, make lemonade, help serve the soup, pour coffee, help with cleaning up, and most importantly visit with the parishioners. The students welcome the diners and explain to them how the free will offering that day goes to our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul fund for our neighbors in need.

Maria Dulli, Youth Ministry Program Assistant, says that the Soup and Bread Meal is her favorite project of the year. “It brings a lot of people together of different ages and interests. People are so generous in donating the soups and helping to clean up.” She praises how local vendors have been generous in donating the bread. Maria says how much she herself enjoys the mid-day meal, noting how the people linger to visit and can take the time as a community to be with each other. Maria emphasized that all leftover soups and bread are taken to Luke House.

Left hands…right hands….actually all hands can continue this type of project in their own homes throughout Lent. Perhaps once a week, the family prepares a simple meal of soup and bread to share together, and monies not used for a “regular” meal (whatever that is in each household) can go to a fund to be donated at the end of Lent to a charitable cause. There is a list of opportunities for almsgiving on the Lent & Easter Schedule page.

“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,…” (from the Gospel of St. Matthew read on Ash Wednesday).

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