What: Give Alms to the Poor
What is almsgiving? Isn't this something done during Lent?
Almsgiving is donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. During Lent the Church focuses more intently on almsgiving as a form of penance, but by no means are we limited to only those 40 days.
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
May is the month of Mary during which the Church marks the feast of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13th) and the Visitation (May 31st), but there is also a lesser-known Marian Apparition that rounds out the month. Our Lady of Banneux appeared multiple times to a young girl, Marriette, in Belgium. When Marriette asks her who she is, Mary responded, "I am the Virgin of the Poor." You can learn more about this apparition here and by reading this letter from St. John Paul II to the Bishop of Liege on the 50th Anniversary of the recognition of the apparitions at Banneux.
We can see Mary's closeness to the poor throughout her life, perhaps most prevalent at the Nativity of our Lord.
With Mary's love and solidarity with the poor in mind, this month's challenge helps us to build a civilization of love by connecting with the poor.
Pick your CHALLENGE:
- Learn more about Our Lady of Banneux
- Spend time learning about Catholic Social Teaching's Preferential Option for the Poor
- This guide from the Fellowship of Catholic University Students examines Mary and the preferential option for the poor.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started. Remember, donating money or material goods or performing another act of charity for the poor is what this month's challenge of giving alms to the poor comes down to.
- Donate to your parish collection or fund that is dedicated to helping individuals or families who find themselves in need of emergency financial support.
- Reach out to a local pregnancy resource center or maternity home and ask what material goods are needed or if there is a fund for financial needs to which you can donate.
- Pick your favorite charitable organization that provides direct assistance to the poor and make a donation.
- Hold a garage sale that allows people to pay what they can for any given item with all funds going to a local charity for the poor.
- Host a fundraiser for the Catholic Charities in your diocese.
- Skip eating out or buying coffee on the go for the month and donate what you save.
- Purchase gift cards for food or clothing stores and provide them to someone asking for help.
- Get your kids involved by encouraging them to pick a charity and come up with ways to raise money or dedicate their own tithe from an allowance or income.
- Save your spare change to provide for someone seeking help.
- Ask your utility company if you can cover a bill for a family who is behind on their payment.
Set your GOAL:
You can choose one of the suggestions above, or come up with your own. Then, depending on your challenge, you will want to set yourself a practical goal - whether it be material, financial, or spiritual. Some examples include:
- Increase your tithe by 1% this month with the extra going directly to a fund or charity that provides financial or material assistance to the poor.
- Fundraise $5000 for your parish's families in need fund by hosting a parish-wide rummage sale.
- Hand out a dozen gift cards to people in need
Determine your AUDIENCE:
Who do you want to join you in your monthly challenge?
- Just yourself!
- Your family and friends
- Your parish
- Your social media friends
- Or whomever you want!
Once you know what you are going to do, click "Share" to tell us your idea! We encourage you to upload a picture of how you're building a civilization of love to help inspire others to take action too!