The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. During the significant weeks leading up to Easter, one of the ways we can turn our hearts to the Lord is by sharing our blessings generously with the poor and vulnerable.
If you are considering how best to make a difference this Easter, a great place to start is by reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy derived from Matthew 25. In that passage, Jesus clearly lays out how we can serve him by sharing his mercy with those in deepest need — by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the sick and so on.
Here at Cross Catholic Outreach, we have many meaningful opportunities to engage with those precious works around the world. For example, we are currently striving to give drink to the thirsty by providing clean wells in Malawi and Zambia.
Through our Wells of Salvation outreach, compassionate Catholics can transform lives in nations on the other side of the globe — quenching thirst with clean water and lifting high the Living Water that is Christ the Lord.
When you travel along Zambia’s eastern border during the region’s dry season, you are struck by the harshness of the environment. Reddish-brown dust swirls around your vehicle, and the vegetation you see along the road is sparse. The blistering sun shines brightly overhead, and there’s no sign of rain — only sweltering heat. In fact, between the months of May and mid-November, you’re unlikely to see any rain at all — and those six months of mostly dry, cloudless days gradually evaporate the area’s water supply, making life incredibly challenging for the families living in the area.
Miriam lives in that region and has experienced the hardships caused by water scarcity for her entire life. Now a teenager, she is only in the second grade. Instead of being able to focus on classes and schoolwork, she must sacrifice much of her time to the chore of water collection. Before and after school, she visits local hand-dug pits to draw water for her family. But if the lines are long or all the nearest pits have run dry, women and children like Miriam might have to travel even farther to find the water they need. In those cases, the trip can take much longer than expected.
Time isn’t the only thing that Miriam loses, either. Most of the hand-dug pits are dirty and contaminated, filled with cloudy greenish water that takes a tragic toll on residents’ health — especially those most vulnerable, such as the elderly and children.
“When we are sick from the water, we miss school, so it makes it hard for us to achieve our dreams,” Miriam said. “It gives us little time to do our homework or study. I pray for a good life free from illness.”
Bishop George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia, grew up near the community where Miriam resides. In fact, he still has family in the area — and when he visits, he drinks the murky water in solidarity with those who have no other option for quenching their thirst. He has faith that, someday, God will answer the prayers of the people who live there and provide the clean water they have needed for so long.
This Lenten season, we believe the Lord is calling us to share his mercy with these communities and provide the solution they’ve been waiting for. Cross Catholic Outreach’s Wells of Salvation program aims to drill 104 new wells and repair five existing wells in Zambia and Malawi, bringing safe and conveniently accessible water to 49,000 people. In addition to quenching their thirst, the outreach will also provide:
Working together, these outreaches will improve health and restore hope through a careful combination of both material and spiritual support.
Throughout the Lent and Easter seasons, we are asking U.S. Catholics to join us in giving drink to the thirsty through Wells of Salvation. In Cross Catholic Outreach’s Easter Catalog, there are many other opportunities to engage with the Corporal Works of Mercy by blessing the vulnerable. For instance, you can:
We should never underestimate what is possible when the Church — the Bride of Christ — steps forward to stand in solidarity with those in deepest need. Our acts of compassion not only provide material blessings, but also proclaim an authentic testimony of God’s love to a suffering world so urgently in need of his grace.
As Pope Benedict XVI said so beautifully, “Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy; rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave his entire self for us.”
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.