March 28, 2023 // World News

CRS Rice Bowl 2023 — A Journey to Three Countries

BALTIMORE — Since 1975, CRS Rice Bowl, the brightly colored cardboard almsgiving box that is a familiar annual Lenten sight in parishes across the country, has invited Catholics to pray, fast, and give in solidarity with the world’s poor.

Lent can feel like a long time. Sometimes we’d like to skip right to Easter! But just like studying for a test, practicing a sport, or saving money, we often must do difficult tasks, make sacrifices, and overcome obstacles to reach a worthy goal.

The 40 days we spend praying and doing penance help us prepare to celebrate the Church’s greatest feast day. Jesus had to go through His passion and death before He could rise. Our sacrifices enable us to experience — in a small way — Christ’s suffering, and they lead us to the joy and wonder of His resurrection.

This year, the CRS Rice Bowl Stories of Hope took us to Honduras, Kenya, and the Philippines.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve learned how people made sacrifices so their families and communities can thrive.

In Honduras, Rony fixed his reservoir and installed a low-cost system to water his fields. Although this work took time and effort, Rony’s hard work allowed him to provide food for his family and is helping his son achieve his soccer dream!

In the Philippines, Raul and Rhodora changed their jobs to ensure their granddaughters can be healthy and finish school. It was challenging for them to learn a new and different type of work — raising fish — but it was worth it to help support their granddaughters.

In Kenya, Rebecca learned how to use a new water system and different ways to farm. She also taught others in her community to use these new techniques. Rebecca spent time learning and teaching, but her sacrifice is now benefiting her family and entire community.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, one of the most significant moments of the Church year. During this week, we journey with Christ from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem to His final meal with His closest friends and ultimately to His death on the cross.

As we walk with Jesus through Holy Week, we call to mind the countless men, women, and children who even today carry heavy crosses: crosses of hunger, of homelessness, of a lack of resources or security. In these brothers and sisters, we encounter Christ, as He walks that long road to Calvary. In these encounters, it’s important not to forget an essential pillar of Lenten spirituality — almsgiving — which allows us to help those who are most in need.

This final week of Lent is also a time to reflect on those words of St. Paul to the Philippians. Jesus emptied Himself for us; how might we empty ourselves for others? Our Lenten prayers, fasting and almsgiving have prepared us to wrestle with this question.

We must always remember that Holy Week gives way to Easter — the fast turns into a feast. God wins the day. As we prepare to celebrate Easter with joy, it is our responsibility as members of God’s one human family to share that joy with everyone, near and far.

For more information about the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program and to donate, visit

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