The Third Sunday in Lent

The Third Sunday in Lent
Sunday, March 7

In the Catholic tradition there are three pillars of Lent: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. The third pillar, almsgiving, often gets overlooked in our observance of the season. Almsgiving is a fancy word for charity. It is considered a form of prayer because almsgiving is meant to be a way of giving to God (Matthew 25:40). Just as we make sacrifices through fasting, almsgiving calls us to give sacrificially to others.

I’ve never intentionally incorporated a practice of almsgiving into my observance of Lent before, but it makes a lot of sense. The decisions I have made around fasting and the prayers that become my refrain during this season are largely focused on me. I want to simplify my way of life. I have things I need to repent for. I want to deepen my relationship with God. When God is involved, though, the focus can never just be on the self.

Almsgiving can provide balance to our experience of Lent. Giving reminds us that all we have comes from God. Meeting the needs of our neighbors reminds us of the ways in which God has met our needs. After a year that created new needs and increased existing needs, let’s not let this Lent pass without doing what we can to help someone else.

A practice to try this week:
Look outside of yourself. Identify a charity doing work you value and make a special Lenten gift of time, money, or resources.

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