You must not think of giving alms to the poor as an expense but as a source of income. It is not an outlay of money, but it is a profitable business. For you get back more than you give. You give bread and get back eternal life. You give a coat and get back a garment of immortality. You give your house to be shared, and you receive back a heavenly Kingdom. +St. John Chrysostom
The amount we give is not judged by the largeness of the gifts but the largeness of our hearts. The poor woman who shares her meager pot of stew with another poor woman is far more to be praised than the rich man who throws a few gold coins into a collection at church. But although most Christians acknowledge the truth of this, their words and actions convey a different message. When a rich man makes a large gift to the church, he is heartily thanked; and although he will not feel the lack of that money himself, he is praised for his generosity. When a poor man makes a small gift, nothing is said, even though that gift may cause him to go hungry, no one praises him or thanks him. It would be better to praise no one than to confine our praise to the rich. Better still, we should take trouble to observe every true act of generosity, whether by the rich or the poor, and then offer our praise. Indeed let us be as generous with our praise as people are generous with their money.
St. John Chrysostom from On Living Simply
Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, considered his chief task to be charitable and to give help to all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered his stewards to compile a list of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. The saint ordered that all of these unfortunates be provided for each day out of the church’s treasury.
Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need. He settled quarrels, helped the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited the sick-houses, and rendered assistance to the suffering.
The saint never refused suppliants. One day, when the saint was visiting the sick, he met a beggar and commanded that he be given six silver coins. The beggar changed his clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch, and again asked for alms. St John gave him six more silver coins. When, however, the beggar sought charity a third time, and the servants began to chase the fellow away, the Patriarch ordered that he be given twelve pieces of silver, saying, “Perhaps he is Christ putting me to the test.”
Excerpted from the Lives of Saints at oca.org.
St. Maria of Paris Outreach Ministry of Annunciation Cathedral in Norfolk, Virginia, recently celebrated its second anniversary. Given the ministry’s name, it should come as no surprise that St. Maria of Paris and especially the book about her life, Pearl of Great Price, were the catalyst for its founding.
For many years, faithful stewards of Annunciation recognized they had a facility that was ideal for providing meals to those in need in the larger Norfolk community. But even though there were many discussions about getting something started, it took the spark of a few individuals who were personally touched by the life of St. Maria (Skobtsova) to finally light the fire. As the book Pearl of Great Price was passed from person to person, each one became committed to making an outreach ministry at Annunciation a reality. As one member of the group noted, “St. Maria was amazing, but she was like us—very contemporary. She struggled with her faith, her calling, and the poverty around her. Her example was the driving force behind finally getting this ministry off the ground. After reading her life, we decided we can do this!”
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The time which you lend to God is not lost: He will return it to you with abundant interest.
+St. Basil the Great
Liberality is living generously; it serves as a weapon against greed. Give freely to others when it is within your power to do so, without any expectation of getting something in return. This includes giving to the homeless, neighbors, and those in our own families. We can’t simply expect this from our children. We model it when they watch us joyfully give to others and when they are recipients of our generosity. And we can help them live generously by providing opportunities for them to give and serve.
From The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, by Annalisa Boyd, Ancient Faith Publishing.
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
From the Matins of Holy Tuesday:
Behold O my soul! The Master entrusts to you a talent. Receive the gift with fear; lend to Him who gave it; distribute to the poor, and gain the Lord as a Friend; that you may stand on His right, when He comes in glory, and hear His blessed voice: “Enter, O servant, into the joy of Your Lord!” In Your great Mercy, O Savior, deem me, who has strayed, worthy of this joy.
And so let us perform our alms and deeds of kindness all the more lavishly, all the more frequently the nearer the day approaches on which is celebrated the alms, the kindness that has been done to us. Because fasting without kindness and mercy is worth nothing to the one who’s fasting.
This Great Lent, we’ve invited our readers to a deeper connection between fasting + almsgiving. On the eve of Holy Week, we’ve reached the 11th hour for putting the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. It is never too late!
(From a reader): I don’t really have a budget for food, so connecting fasting with almsgiving requires some thought and planning. What I will try is to put myself on a cash budget for food during lent. Before I go shopping, I will take some of the money out and set aside for the poor. I can only buy what I need with what’s left over.
This Great Lent, we invite our readers to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving. Please email us at email@example.com with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.