2.14.2008

Almsgiving Is Not a Dirty Word

Our Holy Father's Lenten message took a different turn this year. For years, the Lenten season for Catholics has been one to focus on three tasks and make them part of our daily practice: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. In our material and consumer-oriented world we have increasingly made the latter a naughty word. Pope Benedict attempts to alter that way of thinking.

"...I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. ... According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. ... 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 (cf. 2 Cor 5,15)."