Lenten Almsgiving

Catholics are expected to give alms throughout the year but are asked to focus more intently on almsgiving during Lent as one of the three pillars of Lenten practice along with prayer and fasting.

Almsgiving is the practice of donating money or food, or doing other acts of charity for those who are less fortunate.

The external act of giving alms should be accompanied by the proper intention. Almsgiving is a work of mercy when it is done out of love for God and with respect for the dignity of others.

Alms should never be given because of arrogance or guilt but should be practiced with a spirit of thanksgiving and an understanding that everything is a gift from God.

Almsgivng involves some type of sacrifice on the part of the giver in order to provide for the needs of the other. Alms should not come from a surplus but should bring about a change or adjustment in spending habits.

Jesus was charitable:

Putting love into action:

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Matthew 6: 1-4

The heart of almsgiving:

A type of sacrifice:

Jesus also gave a warning about the superficial, “exterior” attitude of almsdeeds. This problem is still a living one. If we realize the essential significance that “alms” has for our conversion to God for the whole of Christian life, we must avoid, at all costs, all that falsifies the meaning of alms, mercy, works of charity, all that may distort their image in ourselves. In this field, it is very important to cultivate interior sensitivity as regards the real needs of our neighbour, in order to know in what we must help him, how to act in order not to wound him, and how to behave in order that what we give, what we bring to his life, may be a real gift, a gift not dimmed by the ordinary negative meaning of the word “alms”.

Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 28 March 1979

Going outside ourselves to serve others:

An important part of discipleship:


Imitating God in a special way:

Giving alms to the poor is a witness to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2462

Encountering Christ in the poor:

Giving to those who are most in need:

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