At a parish my family and I once belonged to, there was a tradition during Lent on Friday evenings called “Soup and Salad.” The basic gist of it was that the parish would provide a salad; participants would bring in a can or two of the soup of their choice. As individuals and families arrived, the soup was collected and combined into large pots for warming while salad was served and the pastor engaged in some conversational catechesis. As crowds grew larger, the catechesis became more of a presentation and moved into the church.
What amazed me about these evenings was how good the soup was, even though it was made up of any number of variety of soups and the unpredictability of what people would bring (except that it was meatless!).
It also amazed me how warm and inviting the atmosphere was, even as most had abstained and fasted all day, and folks were sitting on hard plastic chairs around tables designed for conference meetings, not casual dinners. The common fast, the common hunger, the good word, and the contributions of everyone to the pot made for a wonderful experience of community as we broke our fast together.
Lent is as much about the common as it is about our own focus on the personal spiritual disciplines such as fasting, abstinence, and personal reflection. Take some time this Lent to enter or re-enter more deeply into your parish community. You may find an inviting warmth, a good word and even a tasty pot of community stew that will take you the next step in your journey of faith.
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