Lent 2021 | 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" (Tob 12:8-9).
Why is almsgiving better than prayer and fasting? Because it 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 giving something, but giving up something, giving till it hurts. Read more from this catholiceducation.org article.
Although almsgiving is repeatedly referred to as the 'most neglected' of the Lenten pillars, America Magazine gives a good case for including almsgiving in your practice of Lent.
The article notes that, "In this magazine’s 110-year-old archives, a search for the terms prayer and fasting in the titles of published articles brought up thousands of examples. A similar query for almsgiving yielded a meager two results." This is further proof of the minimized role of almsgiving during Lent in the Church.
With the Church's focus on social justice, the 'neglect' of almsgiving during Lent is surprising. The article goes on to say, "Lent is a time for Catholics not only to pray for those in need but also to give alms and help alleviate the suffering of the poor." This Lent, let's give almsgiving its proper place among prayer and fasting as a pillar of our preparation for Easter.
A great way to incorporate almsgiving with your family this Lent is to go back to the basics by creating an Almsgiving Box. Make it a daily ritual to add money to the box. Decide as a family on the recipient of your alms. Loyola Press suggests this as a great, tangible teaching tool for children and grandchildren.
If you are looking for other activities to include your family in your Lenten practice, explore Loyola Press's compilation of intergenerational activities.
Service as Alms
Almsgiving means - donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. - From usccb.org
The alms we give can be monetary, certainly, but they can also be gifts of our time and talents. Alpha Sigma Nu asks of its members to commit to a lifetime of service to others. What better time than Lent to put that commitment to work?
As a member of Alpha Sigma Nu,
I promise to do everything in my power
To carry out the ideals of Scholarship,
Loyalty and Service.
I promise to be committed to intellectual integrity
and the pursuit of wisdom.
I promise to be loyal to the moral, social,
and religious ideals of my education.
I promise to be genuinely committed
to the well-being of others
and active in serving them.
I will do all this
in light of the Jesuit concern
for the greater honor and glory of God.
Read "Washing Feet: Serving Others During Lent," for a better understanding of service during the Lenten season.
“Giving “alms” is more than simply giving money; it is a matter of heart-felt concern for those in genuine need. The Bible speaks of almsgiving as a God-given duty, which must be carried out freely and joyfully, but also with a sense of responsibility. We need to distinguish the truly poor from the various forms of begging which do not help them. Jesus himself encourages a quiet and sincere concern for others who need our help, but warns against acts of charity performed to gain the approval of others. In our efforts to be merciful, let us take to heart his words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).” Pope Francis on Mercy and Almsgiving at Jubilee Audience, 2016.