Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 8 March - International Women's Day
“Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me... to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor.”
In today’s reading from Isaiah, we are given a clear instruction about the type of fasting that we should practise.
We are not to mope about, nor deny ourselves purely to feel virtuous. Rather, our fasting is active, something that leads us to make changes in our world. It is part of our joyful commitment as Catholics. Something that compels us to reach out in love to our sisters and brothers, especially those who are poor and excluded.
Nomita is a widow raising her two children alone in Bangladesh. She grows and sells vegetables to earn money, but she is living on the edge.
As a woman on her own in Bangladesh, her life has been particularly tough since her husband died. “That first year after his death, I faced so many troubles. That was the hardest year. I didn’t know how to start looking after my children on my own.
“My husband had a small business and we used to lease some land from our neighbours. But after he died, I had nothing.
“My children’s lives are very different now that they have no father. If my husband was alive, our family would be more developed, and our lifestyle would be different.”
To break every yoke
Despite the hardships she faces, Nomita is a strong and fiercely independent woman.
“I’m leading my family, so I work in the home doing all the things I normally would. But I also work outside the home too, doing all the things my husband would have done.”
Around the world, so many women like Nomita are struggling to make a life for themselves and their children. They face difficulties because they are poor, made worse because as women they face many kinds of discrimination.
On International Women’s Day, may our fast be the sort that pleases God. Let us stand up for underprivileged women across the world who need our support.
God of all, let my fast be pleasing to you. Inspire me to share what I have with others so no one goes hungry or homeless. Amen.
On International Women’s Day, keep in your prayers all women who are faced with poverty and injustice in our world. Download our Stations of the Cross, which features women from around the world, for use on Fridays during Lent.