Give us this day, our daily bread. Take from us, the bread we hoard, the food we discard, and the waste we call stuff, so that all may eat and be fed, and our thieving souls made clean. Amen.
|Sketch of Bridget O'Donnel, Illustrated London News,|
Dec. 22, 1849
Today is St. Patrick's Day, and it's probably not a coincidence that we ponder the word hunger on this day of Irish celebration. When I think of Ireland, and what I know about it, the seemingly trivial event of the Great Potato Famine comes into my head. I don't know much about this, except that I learned it was a reason why so many Irish immigrants came to the United States in the 1800's.
If you are like me, you have heard that there was some sort of blight, or fungus that catastrophically struck Ireland, and that's about it. I haven't ever stopped to think much about the 1.5 million people that died during this time, the 2 million that were forced from their native land, or the countless others who suffered, in body and mind over the tragedy. The Great Hunger, as it is called, is a side note in our own U.S. history.
One part of this history that I didn't know, was how much worse the death and suffering was made by the ruling classes, responding with brutality and harshness to the poor. We may wonder how people could make others suffer so, how they could be so cruel. We may see this sketch from the Dec. 22, 1849 Illustrated London News, and read the story of Bridget O'Donnel, which "is briefly this:-- '. . .we were put out last November; we owed some rent. I was at this time lying in fever. . . they commenced knocking down the house, and had half of it knocked down when two neighbours, women, Nell Spellesley and Kate How, carried me out. . . I was carried into a cabin, and lay there for eight days, when I had the creature (the child) born dead. I lay for three weeks after that. The whole of my family got the fever, and one boy thirteen years old died with want and with hunger while we were lying sick." and wonder how this could happen.
This Great Hunger, and the great hunger that we who have too much continue to perpetuate today, is a result of our fear of not having enough, and our selfish vanity which deceives us into thinking that food, and a sustainable life are not a gift from God to all people, but merely a reward for the worthy. When I mindlessly consume and waste, without love and concern for my neighbor who is hungry, I am certainly guilty of treating them as disposably as those who would knock down Bridget O'Donnel's house. Lord have mercy on my soul.
About Lenten Prayer as CtK:
During Lent, I am inviting all of you at Christ the King, and anyone who would be willing to join us, to engage in praying together, seeking to hear God and be guided by Christ's life in our life together. To guide these prayers, I will be posting pictures centered around a word for the day. This comes from the facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/LENTPHOTOADAY. Please feel free to join me in posting pictures and thoughts to your social media accounts or to the comments of this blog.