The season of Lent allows us to cultivate the three pillars of spiritual practice: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. They work hand in hand with each other to give us a richer and fuller spiritual journey through Easter and the ordinary seasons of life.

Let me focus on almsgiving. The root of the word “alms” is from the Latin word, which means mercy and pity. Almsgiving is the act of donating money and goods or doing acts of charity towards our least fortunate sisters and brothers.

Almsgiving is an outward sign of Christian love for others. Generally, it involves some type of sacrifice on behalf of the giver to provide for the needs of the other.

Giving bears enormous returns and rewards. As St. Luke writes, your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap (Luke 6:38). Yes, there are rewards, but the opportunity of being able to give is already a reward. Giving says a lot about the giver. When you give, it means God abundantly blesses you with something to share. Giving is a precious opportunity to return our blessings to the Lord in thanksgiving for His enormous gifts to us.

Our lives are richer when we share. We experience tremendous joy every time we help others better their lives.

A parishioner who is a nurse shared with me her story during the COVID pandemic. One day, she cared for a dying patient in the ICU. She spent extra time with him and held his hands to make him feel he was not alone. She shared that moment through Facetime with the patient’s loved ones who could not be at his side. She said it was her way of giving a precious gift that she was privileged to give at that moment. It was a powerful encounter where she felt God used her as an instrument to bring healing to the patient and his family.

She said, as we bring healing to others, we also bring healing to woundedness. Giving provides an opportunity to look beyond our world and see the world of others, which leads us to see the bigger picture of life. When we give, we focus away from ourselves and slowly become less consumed with our challenges and limitations–or even our vanities.

Almsgiving is an integral part of our spiritual lives. Giving makes us appreciate our gifts, which brings us to the realization that the things we worry about may not seem as significant as what others have gone through. It brings us into communion with one another in ways that bring deeper meaning to our lives. The opportunity to give is already a great reward in itself.