By: Andrew Thomas
We are blessed to be a part of a Church that holds at its center the poor. They, the poor, are our treasure. As the Church lives and moves among us we hold in our hearts a call to give alms. Almsgiving for the Church is where Christ provides, lives, and loves. Let us now look at how Christ provides through almsgiving.
Almsgiving allows the Church to carry out its mission of concern for the poor. In the tradition of the Church, almsgiving is a corporal work of mercy. When we act to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, cloth the sick, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead, we provide for those, with Christ’s compassion, who cannot provide for themselves. The Church in a very real way provides through almsgiving in the name of Christ. Christ not only provides for us, but he lives among us through almsgiving.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that Almsgiving is an act of “interior penance” (CCC 1434). We need this act of “interior penance” in order to create life from the death sin causes in our lives. Almsgiving allows us to reconcile with our neighbor, which as the Catechism points out, “covers a multitude of sins” (CCC 1434). In a very real way, by giving alms, you are reinvigorating the life Christ offers you, but that has been destroyed by sin. Christ does not just live through almsgiving, he lives with love through almsgiving.
The Catechism defines almsgiving as, “money or goods given to the poor as an act of penance or fraternal charity.” Rooted in this definition is charity. Charity is the theological virtue of love. The tradition of the Church describes Charity as, “the theological virtue by which we love…our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822). Before us in love is our neighbor who reap the splendor of the Church’s tradition of almsgiving.
The tradition of the Church can be seen in action providing, living, and loving in the name of Christ. Each Friday during the school year, at 3:00 pm, students gather to reflect on and live with the “interior penance” of almsgiving. S.T.A.R.R., Students Taking Active Reflective Roles, allows us to pull from our hearts, out of our end of the week exhaustion, a simple yet powerful dose of Christ’s love through almsgiving. We feed our “interior penance” and love of neighbor by serving our neighborhood and community. At S.T.A.R.R. we take Tradition and put it into action.