Almsgiving, Fasting and Prayer
Thanks to Dale Zanetti, Director of Adult Faith Formation, for this post.
Almsgiving is an important practice of Lent. It means letting go of some of that cash we have been clinging to. It is a time to give money to worthy charities or some other good cause. But that’s not all-the concept of almsgiving can go much deeper. It can be our response to the teachings of Jesus that encourage us to reach out to people in need, not just with our money, but with our time.
Lent gives us the opportunity to cultivate generosity. It gives us a chance to share
we have and
who we are
with other people. It puts us in communion with others. We are all members of the Body of Christ and we need to take care of the body. Think about how you will care for the “body” of Christ this Lent. Sharing your time is a great sacrifice especially for those of us who are already running on empty. But there are many blessings that await us and it really is so little to ask of us. God is a big God and his blessings are unending. So, if someone says, “You got a minute?” don’t put them off but ask how you can help. Jesus himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
“The purpose of fasting is to put the created order and our spiritual life in a proper balance,” Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo says.
Do you have cravings? I do. I crave chocolate-after a great meal, or as a snack in the middle of the day, or even breakfast. Well that’s not the point, but I crave chocolate. I never even think about the fact that God created chocolate, or at least helped man develop it. I take good things for granted and reach for them whenever I feel like it, without thinking, without reference to the One who gives me the food, and without reference to the question of whether it’s good for me or not. I’m sure chocolate is not bad for me in small quantities but maybe my quantities have recently become a bit too great.
So, I need to reflect on this “Do I have control over how much chocolate I eat or does the chocolate have control over me? And when I resist that chocolate, I will remember from whom it came and give glory to God.
By fasting in the desert Jesus was able to reverse what happened in the Garden of Eden. Like Adam and Eve Jesus was tested by the devil but remained obedient to the Father and reversed the disobedience and restored our humanity.
Fasting reminds us of our how frail we really are and it is very humbling. Giving up “things” may seem trivial and not redemptive, but through fasting we can discover our dependence on God and not on things. And we can do it with joy?
And what will get us to better Almsgiving and sacrifice?
When Daniel explains his efforts to find the way he says: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes prayed to the Lord my God and confessed.”
As he did, God sent the angel Gabriel with a message. “He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision”.
Like Daniel, we can turn to fasting and prayer to receive understanding beyond our abilities to comprehend.
And don’t we all just want better insight and understanding and to know God better?
As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.
St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta
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on Friday, March 6 at 3:00PM