“Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. The third part of the Lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.” —Bishop David Ricken, Journey to the Foot of the Cross: 10 Things to Remember for Lent.
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 meansdonating 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).
In his 2008 Message for Lent. . . Pope Benedict XVI explained “In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (Acts20:35). When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (2 Cor5:15). Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbor in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy.”
There are several special opportunities for almsgiving through donations to Church ministries for which collections are conducted during the Lenten season including:
- Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe
- Catholic Relief Services Collection
- Collection for the Holy Land. . .
- Operation Rice Bowl. . .
Many dioceses hold special appeals for local needs during Lent and there are countless other ways to offer your time, talent and treasure to needy individuals and organizations during Lent and throughout the year. For ideas, contact your diocesan Social Concerns office or your local Catholic Charities affiliate.The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has a variety ofResources and Tools on the Church’s social mission and the option for the poor, including an updated Poverty Tour.