Alms-giving: The third pillar of Lent

We now come to the third pillar of Lent, alms-giving. The lenten journey is unique to each individual. No two deserts are the same. I hope that your journey has been one filled with grace thus far.

A Gift

I often find alms-giving a trickier pillar to tackle. The pinch can be quite hard when money is involved. But is alms-giving solely refering to monetary donations?

Let’s take a look at what alms-giving actually is. The word alms originates from the Greek word ‘eleos’ which means mercy. When we use the word mercy instead of alms-giving, it invokes a very different emotion all together. We are not feeling the pinch of departing from our money, but rather the pinch of the call to love. 

St. Peter Chrysologus sums this up quite nicely, “Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, and mercy receives.” Our fallen nature, however, has made us master controllers. Think about Adam & Eve and the forbidden fruit. Instead of receiving the gifts that were all around them, they grasped the forbidden fruit in want of more. This want of more can translate into anything in our lives, be it food, relationships, recognition, authority, things, and yes, money. This habit of wanting to control everything is buried so deep within us, that we don’t realize the war that we have waged against ourselves to want to take everything. 

We are a GIFT. You and I are created as a gift born out of love; we are called to live our lives as a gift and we are called to give the gift of ourselves to others. As with any gift, we don’t take or claim a gift as our own, but we receive. To be able to receive a gift, we first must let go of control. Think of it this way, if we told everyone that they needed to give us a gift, and what it needs to be, then it really isn’t a gift, is it? That gift wouldn’t bring out the same appreciation and emotion as one that was given to us freely. To receive that gift, we first need to detach ourselves from the need to control what that gift is going to be. This is what Lent is about, detaching ourselves from things of this world, to become attached to Him, our ultimate gift. 

St. Katherine Drexel

59446918c21e1Often we hear stories of saints of who gave away everything they had and took a vow of poverty. Have you heard of a wealthy saint though?

St. Katherine Drexel was a heiress to a large fortune. She came from a very affluent family and traveled across the United States and Europe whilst receiving the best education from private tutors. St. Katherine’s parents were devout Catholics and their daughters were brought up in the practice of spiritual and corporal acts of mercy. They sought out the poor and needy and assisted them in whatever means that were necessary.

After her father’s death, his $15.5 million estate was donated to charities and the remainder split equally amongst his daughters. St. Katherine was drawn to the plight of the Native Americans and became a missionary herself, financing many missions and their education. She established the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored. St. Katherine Drexel is the second American-born Saint to be canonized. She received the gift that she was given and was a good steward of that gift, sharing it with others. Her life was one rich in mercy, receiving and giving. This is the essence of alms-giving, to reach out to those in need, through works of mercy

“To whom much is given, much will be required.” - Luke 12:48

 

Good Stewards

When we are blessed, we are called to share that blessing with others. There are many ways in which we can bless and give mercy to others. Being generous with money that we’ve been blessed with is one of them. Do you know where the first financial advice came from? If you’re thinking the Bible, then you’re on the right track. The Scriptures hold much financial advice and tells us how to be good stewards of money because, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Cf. Matthew 6:24).

We hear the saying that money is the root of evil quite often. But that can’t be further from the truth. Money is not the root of all evil, for money is necessary for many good things to happen in this world. Rather, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (Cf 1 Timothy 6:10)

The act of giving alms is a detachment from the love of money, for we are giving it to those in need, renouncing all claim to it and surrendering it to God. It is an act of mercy, not just for our neighbor but for ourselves. We are transforming ourselves in our act of surrendering to His will and renouncing the love of money, serving only one master, God. How is that not an act of mercy towards ourselves? This brings together the second commandment of Christ so beautifully, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Cf Mark 12:31)

Mercy and Charity

In the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday. It relates to Judas’ betrayal for 30 silver coins. There are many theories as to why Judas betrayed Christ. I would like to focus on two, the love of money and pride. These two vices are as thick as thieves. Judas did not trust Jesus to provide, he took on himself to be his own savior and grasped at the chance to have that security of money, thus betraying our Lord. Again, we come back to this inherent need to grasp and take, disregarding everything and everyone. Alms-giving then is the antidote of being a Judas for we are striving to do what he didn’t, trust God and surrender to Him, relying on His mercy.

We are all called to give in different means. I encourage you to take this to prayer and see where God is leading you. When we love another as we love ourselves, then there are no lengths that we would not go to, to help the other, even when it pinches us a little to do so.

“If our charities do not pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and can not do because our charities expenditure excludes them” - Mere Christianity, C.S Lewis

As you pray about where God is leading you in the process of alms-giving, please consider donating to Freedom Coaching Foundation Inc.. Your donation is needed as we continue to bring this message of freedom to all those in the clutches of pornography and unchaste behavior. Your great gift allows us to continue spreading the message of freedom through newsletters, conduct our Redeemed Healing sessions, give scholarships for Clients who are in need, expand on our social media presence, cover promotional materials, and many other services. Your donation will be an act of mercy to those who cannot afford Freedom Coaching otherwise.

Consider being a supply chain of freedom and help our brothers and sisters come back to serving one master. Click here to donate (all donations are tax-deductible).

May Jesus the Bridegroom in this week of the Bridegroom give you an abundance of grace to sacrifice in loving service and thus bear abundant fruit in the time of the Resurrection.

 

Steve Pokorny is the Founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-to-one mentoring system designed to break the power of pornified images in both men and women. His book, Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture, is available from Amazon.

March 26, 2024 - 8:00am
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