Palm Sunday is next week, which means Lent is starting to wrap up. With that in mind and the approach of Holy Week, we are covering the last pillar of lent, Almsgiving. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (CCC, 2462) Almsgiving is easy to get everyone in the family involved in and a great way to finish off Lent strong. However, it can be tricky as we examine our hearts and begin to notice all the little ways we hold on to earthly things. And it is a great way to cultivate gratitude in our families!
What is Almsgiving?
Almsgiving is giving our time, talents, and physical offerings more generously. It is a way to help us become detached from our earthly possessions so we can be more ready to follow Our Lord wherever he calls us. Worldly possessions aren’t bad; we need them to survive! However, if we start caring too much about them and allowing ourselves to become comfortable, it can be harder to let them go.
So how do we model detachment for our children?
Almsgiving with Others
Many people in our communities have less than us, and Lent is a great time to be aware of those around us who may be struggling. It may be easy to come up with many things to do, but it becomes overwhelming when you see the list. Everyone’s family is different! Check the list below and see if any suggestions seem doable for your family.
Volunteer together as a family.
Put a little more than usual in the collection basket at Mass
Give a smile to someone you pass who may be living on the street (instead of ignoring them)
Create a jar to collect change to donate to a specific charity decided by the family
Donate food to a food bank
Give any toys, games, or clothes not used anymore to Goodwill or another charity.
Put together care packages for the homeless and keep them in the car
Decide as a family which charity to support this Lent
Almsgiving with our family
While it's always essential to reach out to those around us to give alms, sometimes the hardest people to give alms to are those in our own homes. So try some of these small ways to cultivate gratitude and detachment. And for even more ideas, check out the Fairest Love Podcast Episode 6 with Jordan Langdon, who discusses growing a giving mindset within the family.
Give toys, books, or clothes you’ve outgrown to a younger sibling
Offer to read a story to younger siblings
Give up your favorite seat on the couch to a sibling, parent, or spouse
Forgive a sibling, spouse, or child readily when hurt by them
Make a card for a family member just because
Offer someone else the last cookie/bite of dessert/serving of your favorite meal.
St. Josemaria says, “Give! Without counting the cost, and always for God. In this way, you will live, even humanly speaking, closer to the rest of humanity, and you will make your contribution, and the number of the ungrateful will be less.” Of course, it’s easy to tell our children that they should be more generous with others and their siblings, cousins, classmates, etc., but these last few weeks of Lent are also a good time for parents to reexamine attachments to the things on this earth.
When we model generosity not only with our items but also with our time and talents, it makes it easier for the family to live those virtues.