The church’s encouragement to times of fasting is an invitation not only to give up something that we like, but to give out of love. How appropriate that this year our Lenten season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving begins on Valentine’s Day - an occasion of remembering to love one another as God has loved us. Our parish will again provide Catholic Relief Services little cardboard “rice bowls” to keep on your table and participate in a Lenten journey for ourselves and for others. The CRS Rice Bowl program calls on U.S. Catholics to perform a simple act of Lenten sacrifice – substitute a low-cost meatless meal for more expensive dining once a week during Lent and put the money saved in a cardboard rice bowl. That concept remains at the heart of the program even as it has expanded to include broader Lenten faith enrichment through a wide variety of resources available for the millions of Catholics who participate. Included with each rice bowl to take home will be prayer resources, a daily Lenten calendar, weekly stories and recipes from various countries for meatless meals that can be enjoyed on Fridays during Lent. This is an opportunity to encounter what Lent means, what poverty means, what resilience means, what hope means. And to give out of love, in order to meet the need of someone, and to learn their struggle. Whether single or as a family, this program of prayer, fasting and almsgiving can make Lent more meaningful -- and make a real difference in others lives. The money saved at your table will be collected at our church at the end of Lent. Rice bowls will be available at the church entrances beginning Ash Wednesday. Please take one home.