4 – Almsgiving

Bishop Barron often tells a story (the full details of which I forget) that goes something as follows:

A man came to a Priest to ask how he could start to live the Catholic life. The priest thought about it and then responded, “Give alms”.

This might seem like a random suggestion and a practical way to commence, but I suspect that the priest was thinking through the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, Jesus talks about the three key aspects of the spiritual life: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. However, the order Jesus gives them in is ‘Almsgiving, prayer, fasting.’

Whilst prayer is often thought to be the most important thing that we can do, it seems the beginning point is Almsgiving.

According to Catholicism for Dummies: Second Edition, Catholics are the notoriously the lowest givers of all Christians, dedicating 1% of their incomes to the Church. It would seem that most of us could agree to begin by consistently giving 1-2%, and then building over time to increase our giving percentage.

If we look at the lives of many saints such as St Anthony the Great of Egypt, one of the first things they do before living their life for God is give away their possessions. We may not be called to do the same, but giving is something to seriously consider commencing in any capacity if you do not yet do so.