When we look at the three traditional “disciplines” of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we know that almsgiving gets the least attention. Yet, the Bible places emphasis firmly on almsgiving:
Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness … It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life (Tobit 12:8-9).
A central part of our faith is the practice of almsgiving. It is a practice described in our Catholic Catechism thusly:
The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels. During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).
To be a Christian steward includes having compassion towards others, especially the most vulnerable in our society. Almsgiving is an act where we imitate the love and mercy that God has for these people by providing for their most basic and fundamental needs.
Almsgiving is also an expression of our gratitude for all that God has given us, and a realization that as a member of a community of faith, it is never just about “me and God.” It is fundamental to being a good steward of our community. For disciples of the Lord, almsgiving means much more than simply throwing a little change in the poor box. It is an attitude of generosity. It challenges us to examine how we are using our time, abilities, and money to better the lives of those around us. It urges us to share what we have been given by God with others in love and justice. It reminds us that Jesus blesses those who seek to be “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3).
Almsgiving opens our hearts to the realization that God blesses us through those we serve. We see God in the life of Jesus, and we see Jesus in all those who are in need of our care. Look around, see those who are in need, and ask God to take away those obstacles and distractions that keep us from being generous with them. In turn, we will receive God’s blessing in ways we cannot even imagine.
Reprinted with permission from the International Catholic Stewardship Council.
A STEWARDSHIP PRAYER for Lent
God of mercy,
You have given us this special time to reflect on our lives, embrace the Good News and draw closer to You.
During this season of Lent, help us use this time to fast and pray, be more generous and show others how to live in Christ.
Let us see each day of this season as a new opportunity to renew our lives and gain a deeper appreciation of Your active presence in our hearts and our community of faith.
Give us the grace to see Your face in others, especially the poor and those who suffer.
And through your Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of Your love so that we may be better stewards of Your redeeming work throughout the world.
We ask this through Jesus, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
Reprinted with permission from the International Catholic Stewardship Council.More News & Updates