Trócaire Lenten Cloth
A reflection on the Eucharist, Justice and Solidarity
This year is a year dedicated to the Eucharist by the Holy Father. We are invited to commit ourselves to follow the road of solidarity for ‘the Eucharist is not simply an expression of community in church life: it is also a project of solidarity for all of humankind’ (Mane nobiscum, Domine,27). In this time of Lent when we are called to reflect upon our lives, to take time to pray, to make a special effort for those less fortunate, the challenge of building solidarity for all humankind remains a key one. With this in mind we have decided to mark the beginning of Lent with this cloth that brings together a concentration on the Eucharist with the care of the worlds poor.
The central picture of the Trócaire Lenten cloth shows the breaking of bread – a deep representation of what these 40 days of Lent are in preparation for. Bread is both a basic food and a symbol of life throughout the Scriptures. It is Gods gift for humanity and broken bread becomes the symbol of companionship and sharing. It reminds us of Jesus feeding the hungry and of Jesus breaking the bread at the last supper. The position of the Eucharist in the centre of the Lenten cloth is a reminder to us of what lies at the heart of our Lenten Season.
The child on the street represents those affected by homelessness, poverty and hunger. It especially points to the fact that 75% of the people who die of starvation are children under 5 years of age. It challenges us to think at this time of reflection about a world which has enough bread for all but which tolerates hunger amidst plenty and poverty amidst wealth.
As we move around the cloth the next image represents women protesting about the conditions in our world today. This form of protest originated in Latin America and was a way for poor people to make a demand for change. It represents the voices of African, Asian and Latin American people who as families and communities demand a better life for their children and access to the very basic things that we all need to be fully human and fully alive.
The images on the right hand side of the cloth bring us into the Trócaire Lenten theme this year. The top image shows the sharing of food with those who have empty plates. This is key to the Lenten Season. The Trócaire Campaign this year focuses on Ethiopia with the theme ‘Stand by me’. In a country with a terrible history of famine, food shortages and lack of water, we are asked during these 40 days of reflection and prayer to Stand By communities where hunger remains a daily reality. We are asked to do our best to bring communities to the second part of that image – the coming of full plates and enough food for all.
The other central image is of the dove and the cross. The dove is the symbol of peace and the cross the symbol of hope. The images of peace and hope are central to our Christian understanding of Lent. We celebrate not death but life and we look forward to a world free from injustice, poverty, violence and oppression.
Finally the artists who are from Latin America wrote the bottom line on the cloth. It is a summary of the whole Lenten veil and reads in Spanish – ‘hoy arroz, sangue e vida, Cristo quita hambre y sed’ which translates
‘Today Rice, Blood and Life, Christ takes away Hunger and Thirst’.