All posts tagged: almsgiving

Hitting the Lenten Reset Button

It’s hard to believe, but there are less than two weeks left of this Lenten season. I don’t know about you, but this Lent has been a struggle for me. It seems like every which way I turn, there’s something luring me to indulge instead of fast (I had a stressful day and I want to eat my feelings!), tempting me to slack off instead of pray (It’s so late/early and I’m so tired!), or enticing me to spend money on myself instead of give to those in need (I’ve done really well with fasting and prayer—I deserve to treat myself!). There is something hard-wired within human beings that runs away from the difficult and retreats into the comfortable familiar. There is also something equally innate that is all-too-eager to excuse one’s own failures, to overlook one’s own flaws (something that, oddly enough, seems all-too-eager to condemn the failures and flaws of others). We are masters of rationalization and justification, and Lent—the Church’s annual invitation (challenge) to look at ourselves with an honest eye—somehow turns …

5 Lenten Practices that Aren’t Giving Up Chocolate

With Ash Wednesday now come and gone, Catholics everywhere embark on their journey of Lenten disciplines. Lenten penitence can quickly begin to feel rote. While there is still great spiritual benefit in denying ourselves dessert or Netflix, sometimes we seek a more thoughtful or creative immersion into the three great practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Sometimes our imaginations need a jolt from the routine to help our bodies and soul enter into the Lenten spirit of preparation. Liturgically, baptized Christians undertake Lenten disciplines in preparation for the renewal of baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil. Christians enter Lent in order to re-enter our sacramental participation in the Paschal Mystery of salvation. Ideally, Lenten disciplines will baptize our imaginations, allowing us to approach the world with fresh eyes and refreshed charity. For anyone seeking different ways to practice Lent this year, here are five ideas that may provide a new approach to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 1. Forgo music. Several friends have practiced variations on this theme. If you have a morning commute (by car, …

Lenten Tuppence

During Lent, we tend to hear an increased emphasis on three pillars of Christian practice:  prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  This particular reflection will be about the third pillar, almsgiving, along with some pertinent advice from Mary Poppins, who teaches the Banks family about the value of charity. We often think about almsgiving in the sense of giving money to the poor.  Almsgiving most definitely includes that, but here’s my additional “two cents”:  we should also think of almsgiving as time spent with other people, especially those people who are disadvantaged and not just in the sense of being monetarily impoverished.  Poverty comes in many forms, and it is not always alleviated by giving money.  There are people around us every day, including ourselves, who experience different forms of poverty – material poverty, emotional poverty, and spiritual poverty.  There are people who are hungry and thirsty and in need of shelter – both in the physical sense and otherwise.  Some are lonely and hunger for friendship.  Some experience stress and thirst for peace of mind.  Some …

Learning to Say Help

My toddler son has no problem asking for help. He wants up in a seat, “Help!” He is having a problem manipulating an IPad, “Help!” He wants a snack, “Help!” Today, he sang a song entirely consisting of the word, “Help!” This kind of radical openness to one’s neediness, one’s incompleteness, one’s dependency upon God is at the heart of the Gospel. Christianity is learning to say thank you, to see the entirety of our lives as gifts. Perhaps, this language of “Help” might actually enable us to understand something about Lent too. Lent is not about success. It is not about becoming the best version of ourselves. It is not developing self-control that will enable us to be successful in other areas of life. Rather, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving is the way that we Christians give up on the project of self-creation, self-control, self-improvement. It’s the way that we cry out to God through embodied practice that we need help. We fast as a way of recognizing the original gift of the created order; …