05 March 2009

On Almsgiving

We might hear someone say, "What are you giving up for Lent?" but we seldom hear someone say, "What are you giving AWAY for Lent?" Almsgiving is traditionally associated with the prayer and fasting that accompany this sacred season. When we deny ourselves something as an act of sacrifice we might also think that the empty space we've created -- be it in our hearts (or our stomachs) is a place which is open to the Lord.

The more we remove our own needs and concerns from our hearts and fill those spaces with the Lord, the more we become eager to notice and to respond to the needs of those around us. Whether we are knitting caps for a homeless shelter (as some of our number are doing -- more on this in a future post) or simply being more aware of a coworker who looks sad, our "empty space" makes us richer. We have more to give away: more attention, more concern, more love. Almsgiving is not just about writing a check to our favorite charity (although we are sure glad that some of our benefactors continue to give alms in this way) it is about allowing our sacrifices and our prayer to make room in our hearts for those around us.

"Deprive yourself frequently of some part of your property by bestowing it with a willing heart upon the poor. To give away what we have is to impoverish ourselves in proportion as we give; the more we give, the poorer we become. It is true that God will repay us not only in the next world but even in this world. Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as to give alms."
St. Francis de Sales

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.