Author Archives: Info@everygoodandperfectgift.org

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(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 info@everygoodandperfectgift.org with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.

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(From a reader): God has given me so much! I want to use my talents to fulfill Christ’s command: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

Read more about how a few people were the little leaven at their parish to start a new outreach to those in need in their community. Feed His Flock, Orthodox Action in Buffalo, NY, and the Philoxenia House in Rochester, NY

Take the Almsgiving Challenge to consume less + give more this Great Lent! Please email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.

GREGPALA

When you fast and are nourished with abstinence, do not store the leftovers for tomorrow, but, as the Lord became poor and enriched us, feed someone who does not want to be hungry, you who hungers willingly. Then your fast will be like the dove who brings and joyfully proclaims salvation to your soul from the flood.

+St. Gregory Palamas

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(From a reader): Connecting fasting + almsgiving is challenging, so I’m keeping it simple. A friend shared with me that she always buys something for the food pantry every time she shops, so at the very least I am trying to do that. I hope at some point to figure out how to actually go hungry and give what I could have eaten to the poor. Not there yet.

This Great Lent, we invite our readers to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving. Please email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.

A Little Leaven

One church’s recipe for meeting a need in their local community

Starting a new outreach ministry in a parish can be as simple as responding to a need in the local community with a few dedicated volunteers and a vision for service. Christ the Savior, a small Greek Orthodox church in Tennessee, had all the ingredients to start such a ministry. They knew that their northeastern region of Tennessee had been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis of the last several years. The local food bank reported that one in four people in the region live in poverty; nearly one in five adults and two out of five children in the area have food insecurity. This means many households have to choose between food and other basic necessities. The local food pantries and shelters saw a marked increase in clients over the past few years, some an increase of as high as twenty-five percent.

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One of the needs of the food pantries in the area is for bread. Pantries rely on day-old bread donations from local grocery stores or must purchase bread when donations do not meet the need. Christ the Savior had many of the resources to match this need: two volunteers with certification and experience in baking large quantities of bread, a professional kitchen, and the commitment of parish leadership to meeting the needs of the local community. Only one thing was missing, a large capacity mixer. Read More →

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People give all sorts of reasons to excuse their lack of charity, their hardheartedness!  Some say, “hard times.” But if the times are hard for those who have a sufficiency, how much harder are they for the poor?  This pretext alone should lead one to give all the more generously.
+St. Theophan the Recluse

consume less + give more

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(From a reader): In our efforts to connect fasting + almsgiving, we found The Food Stamp Challenge, which challenges others to eat on the food budget of those who receive Food Stamps, or roughly $1 per meal per person. I found a wealth of meal-planning tips online and also used When You Fast by Catherine Mandell. We sometimes exceeded the $1 per meal guideline, but we still saved that first year more than 25% of our normal food budget. When I shopped, I made it a habit to spend 25% of my budget on food for our Food Bank and/or our local food pantry or local homeless. At the end of Lent we made a donation of the rest of our savings.

This Great Lent, we invite you to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving. We’ll be adding to the blog every few days with what we hear from our readers who are taking the Almsgiving Challenge to consume less + give more. Please email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.

Take the Almsgiving Challenge

This Great Lent, we invite you to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving.

In the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord. If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the Lord. These things, therefore, shall you thus observe with your children, and all your house, and in observing them you will be blessed; and as many as hear these words and observe them shall be blessed; and whatsoever they ask of the Lord they shall receive.

From the Shepherd of Hermas, Book III, a second century early Christian text, considered scriptural by many of the Church Fathers of the time

For the second year, EveryGoodandPerfectGift.org is challenging our readers to consume less + give more this Great Lent. We will be sharing feedback from our readers each week with concrete, practical suggestions for making the connection between fasting + almsgiving. Email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice (we’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.)

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Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

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The inner significance of fasting is best summed up in the triad: prayer, fasting, almsgiving. Divorced from prayer and from the reception of the holy sacraments, unaccompanied by acts of compassion, our fasting becomes pharisaical or even demonic. It leads, not to contrition and joyfulness, but to pride, inward tension and irritability. The link between prayer and fasting is rightly indicated by Father Alexander Elchaninov. A critic of fasting says to him: ‘Our work suffers and we become irritable. . . . I have never seen servants [in pre-revolutionary Russia] so bad tempered as during the last days of Holy Week. Clearly, fasting has a very bad effect on the nerves.’ To this Father Alexander replies: ‘You are quite right. . . . If it is not accompanied by prayer and an increased spiritual life, it merely leads to a heightened state of irritability. It is natural that servants who took their fasting seriously and who were forced to work hard during Lent, while not being allowed to go to church, were angry and irritable.’

Prayer and fasting should in their turn be accompanied by almsgiving – by love for others expressed in practical form, by works of compassion and forgiveness. Eight days before the opening of the Lenten fast, on the Sunday of the Last Judgment, the appointed Gospel is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25′: 31-46), reminding us that the criterion in the coming judgment will not be the strictness of our fasting but the amount of help that we have given to those in need. In the words of the Triodion:

Knowing the commandments of the Lord, let this be our way of life:
Let us feed the hungry, let us give the thirsty drink,
Let us clothe the naked, let us welcome strangers,
Let us visit those in prison and the sick.
Then the Judge of all the earth will say even to us:
‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.’

Excerpted from The True Nature of Fasting by Mother Maria and Bishop Kallistos – See more at: Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha on goarch.org.

Sunday of Orthodoxy

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Come let us cleanse ourselves by almsgiving and acts of mercy to the poor,
Not sounding a trumpet or making a show of our charity.
Let not our left hand know what our right hand is doing;
Let not vainglory scatter the fruit of our almsgiving;
But in secret let us call on Him that knows all secrets;
Father, forgive us our trespasses, for Thou lovest mankind.

From the Sunday of Orthodoxy Matins 

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