By Leslie Aquino and Christina Hermoso
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged the faithful this Lenten season to fast and help feed hungry and malnourished children.
“This season of Lent, let us re-center our lives on God, who takes the initiative to call us to conversion. Let us deepen our relationship with Him by practicing charity and helping those in need,” Tagle said in a pastoral letter.
Rev. Fr. John Leydon, convenor of the Global Catholic Climate Movement Philippines, also encouraged the faithful “to shift to a plant-based diet to help protect and preserve the environment.”
He said that the sacrifice of abstaining from meat not only has spiritual benefits, “it is also good for the health and best for the environment.”
The priest said meat production as compared to the production of plant products requires a lot of water. “It also releases harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The expansion of the meat industry harms Mother Earth,” Leydon said over church-run Radio Veritas.
“Abstinence from meat and shifting to a plant-based diet is a form of renewing ties with the Lord as we help preserve the environment that He created for us. Pope Francis in his Laudato Si encyclical reminded us to address the continuous environmental destruction and listen to the cries of the poor,” Leydon added.
Fast to feed
One charitable activity that the church has been promoting is Pondo ng Pinoy’s FAST2FEED campaign which benefits the Hapag-Asa Integrated Nutrition Program.
“We appeal to your kind hearts. Please support Hapag-Asa. It only takes P1,220 for six months – or P10 per day – to nourish a hungry and undernourished child,” Tagle said.
“Let us make a difference in the lives of these hungry and malnourished children by donating whatever we save from fasting to Hapag-Asa. Let us FAST TO FEED our needy children,” he added.
“To practice charity is concrete proof that we are striving to follow Jesus, and that we are making the gift of ourselves the active principle of Christian life,” said Tagle.
Since 2005, Hapag-Asa program has been feeding hungry and undernourished children throughout the country.
This year, Hapag Asa is looking to provide one meal per day to 30,000 children for 120 days.
“The development of their full potential will not be achieved unless they are cared for and fed with nutritious food,” said Tagle.
The cardinal also stressed the importance of the faithful reconciling themselves with the Lord during this period.
“It is an acceptable time to allow ourselves to be reconciled and to be renewed by the tenderness of the Father. It is a time given to us to trace our steps back to the path from which we strayed,” said Tagle.
Thousands of Catholics had their foreheads marked with ashes in the form of a cross yesterday, Ash Wednesday, which signaled the start of the Lenten season – a time of fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, charity work, and spiritual renewal.