5 Reasons for Almsgiving

With Lent comes an emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The rice bowls or other ministry containers come home and we are reminded to take the money we save from fasting and give to the poor. Some people take this seriously and some people don’t. Sadly, for a long time I was one of those who basically ignored the almsgiving portion of Lent.

Image by niekverlaan (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Money can be a touchy subject and there are those who think that the Church is all about money. Yes, the Church needs money to run but almsgiving is (and should be) a deeply spiritual act. And, it doesn’t always mean money. If you have limited funds, you can give some of your time or talents or prayers. With a little creativity, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit will inspire you with ideas for almsgiving.

If you need a little nudge, here are three reasons you should start a regular almsgiving regimen:

It’s Biblical

Tithing goes way back to the Old Testament and Jesus mentions the importance of giving several times, including:

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 8:10

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Matthew 5:42

I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21: 3-4

It is an Act of Mercy

Feeding the hungry, give to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, sheltering the homeless, and burying the dead are all corporal works of mercy. Therefore, donating (almsgiving) to organizations that provide these services is, by extension, an act of mercy.

Better yet, you can give the alms of yourself by volunteering at an organization that provide these services. Or, just take some time to visit the elderly in a nursing home or a shut in. I worked with the elderly for a long time and I can assure you, it would be a great gift to them and incredibly rewarding for you! God is enormously generous and we always get more than we give.

It Fosters Gratitude

We all go through different struggles in our lives, some times can be worse than other times. When this happens, it is easy to get tunnel vision which makes past our little world a challenge. When we give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, it can open our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of others. This is especially true if the almsgiving is from our necessities (think of the widow’s mite) and not an afterthought of our surplus.

It Can Help Form a Habit

Hopefully when we start almsgiving at Lent (or any time of the year), it will become a habit of giving and generosity. There are a lot of people who give (especially to food banks) during the Advent/Christmas season but than that falls off. The needy aren’t just needy during the winter holidays (although it is most noticeable then). There are people who need help all through the year.

Therefore, starting to do almsgiving at another time of the year, such as Lent, may help you get you into the spirit of giving on a regular basis.

It Can Strengthen and Enrich our Prayer Life

Or, rather, it should. When we pray, and enter into the heart of God, it is natural to want to spread His love to others, thus making almsgiving an overflow of our prayer life. And when we give alms, it can open our hearts to others and to God in a circle of blessing and grace, thus enriching our prayer life.

There is a reason prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is the trio focus of Lent. All of them, including almsgiving, work together to convert our hearts and our minds to God. If you focus on one or two and ignore the other(s). then you miss out on the fullness of grace that could be yours.

So, I encourage you to prayerfully discern what alms the Lord is asking you to give, be it money, time or talent. And once discerned, have courage to give without cost because, believe me, you will receive so much more than you could ever receive.

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Comments

  1. For Lent, I prefer to do something more than give money. My project each year is to add one item per each day of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday to a donation box that I will give to my local St. Vincent de Paul after Easter. This way, I am downsizing things in my house but also giving items to those who can use them.

    • SimpleCatholic says:

      I absolutely love this idea. I may have to “steal” this. I haven’t gone through my stuff in a while but I am pretty sure I have a lot of things worth donating. Thanks for sharing.

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