Almsgiving

Of the three marks of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving — almsgiving is surely the most neglected.

And yet, in the only place where the Bible brings all three together, the inspired author puts the emphasis firmly on the last: “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” (Tob 12:8-9).

Why is almsgiving better than prayer and fasting?  Because giving alms is prayer, and it involves fasting.

Almsgiving is a form of prayer because it is “giving to God” — and not mere philanthropy.  It is a form of fasting because it demands sacrificial giving — not just the giving of something, but the giving up of something.

According to the USCCB, 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).

There are several special opportunities for almsgiving through donations to Church ministries for which collections are conducted during the Lenten season including:  Collections for Catholic Relief Services; The Holy Land; Mission Collections; CRS Rice Bowl; and others.

Indeed, there are countless other ways to offer your time, talent and treasure to needy individuals and organizations during Lent and throughout the year.  (10:17)