Many religions include a period of fasting or abstaining. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, fasting is observed between dawn and nightfall. On the most sacred day of the year in the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur, Jews fast for a day to reflect, repent and atone. Hindus observe fasts during festivals, as well as specific days of the week and month. In Catholicism, one of the most well-known traditions is the act of fasting during the Lenten season.
While abstaining or fasting during the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday began as a commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert leading up to his crucifixion, the practice has taken on new meaning in recent years.
In his annual Lenten messages since 2013, Pope Francis has asked individuals to give up more than sweets or other vices. In his first message, Pope Francis encouraged individuals to give up “greed looking for easy gain." Then, in 2015, he suggested abstaining from “indifference towards others.” Most recently, in 2020, Pope Francis asked for the refrain from “useless words, gossip, rumors, tittle-tattle.”
In his annual Lenten message in 2015, Pope Francis quoted the early Christian mystic John Chrysostom who said, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
So, this Lenten season, perhaps we should not simply consider what to give up or abstain from, but rather how we can give back and enrich others. And not just during 40 days, but throughout the year.
Our community’s nonprofits offer nearly endless ways to give back and help. Here are several to consider including in your Lenten practice, if you have one, and in your life all year long.
Give your time and talent
Make a difference in your community by donating your time. At Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, we rely on the generosity of volunteers to help us execute our mission of helping those in need. Volunteering provides the human resources our agency needs and allows us to provide more compassionate services to people in need. We aim to give all of our volunteers a life-enriching experience that compliments their interests and enhances the quality of their lives — all while helping to support our critical programs and services.
From sorting donations at one of the St. Vincent’s Thrift Stores, to distributing food boxes to families in the Food Pantry, to serving people food in the St. Vincent's Dining Room, we offer a variety of ways to get involved. To learn more, visit the Catholic Charities volunteer page.
Give your resources
In addition to volunteers who donate their time, most nonprofit organizations also need money and resources to support their cause. At Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, the generosity of our donors helps those in need and makes a meaningful difference in the lives of the thousands of men, women, and children of all faiths who we serve each year here in Northern Nevada. We are proud to say that 88 cents of every dollar go directly to feeding the hungry and providing services and resources to help us ease the pain of poverty in our community.
There are many ways to donate, including:
- Celebration Gifts: Celebrate someone special by giving a gift that makes a remarkable difference in the lives of others. A gift of celebration is a beautiful way to commemorate birthdays, graduations, weddings, promotions, and retirements. This is also an excellent way to thank someone or to let them know they are in your thoughts.
- Company Matching Gifts: Matching gifts from your employer can expand the impact of your contribution.
- Donate A Car: Donate a car through the AutoGiving vehicle donation program.
- Food Donations: Your donation of food to either the St. Vincent’s Food Pantry or the St. Vincent’s Dining Room is very important in helping us reduce the cost of purchasing food to distribute.
- General Cash Donations: Cash donations are always appreciated and can be designated toward any program.
- Gifts In Remembrance: Remembering and honoring those who have touched your life takes on greater meaning when your generosity makes a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need.
- Host An Event On Behalf Of CCNN: Contact us for more information on how you and your company or organization can host a fundraiser or collection drive on behalf of Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada.
- Make A Purchase: Make a purchase through the Amazon Smiles program on Amazon.com, and a portion will go to Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada.
- Thrift Shop: Your donation of gently used or new items to the St. Vincent’s Thrift Shop enables us to feed hungry people and support other programs through sales.
- Necessities: Put together bags of hygiene items and drop them off at any of our donation centers. These can be small bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, soap or feminine hygiene products.
We are the safety net for hundreds of thousands of people and families in need — people of all ages, backgrounds, and religions — across Northern Nevada. Your donation means we can be there when people need us.
To learn more about how to donate, visit the Catholic Charities donation page.
The idea of “giving rather than giving up” is at the heart of so many philosophies that support a healthy community. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” Through giving, we can all receive the love, compassion, and community that we all seek.