Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alms for the Poor

The third Lenten practice is Almsgiving, which usually means giving money to the poor and needy. You can also give time and effort by volunteering or helping out a neighbor, friend, family member or complete stranger. My wife and I haven't figured out where we will be giving and in what sort of currency (monetary or time), but we've had several hints.

Four weeks ago we went out to my Mom's home in Front Royal, VA, to celebrate my brother's birthday. We stayed overnight Saturday and went to Mass there on Sunday. The priest's homily was short and then he started to talk about the annual Bishop's Lenten Appeal for the diocese of Arlington, VA. He spoke passionately and persuasively about giving to the appeal to support all the good works of the diocese, like supporting crisis pregnancy centers, funding the education of seminarians to be the future priests of the diocese, funding medical centers that provide medicine and healing to the poor, etc. We were impressed, but don't live in that diocese.

Three weeks ago we went to Mass at St. Mary of the Mills, one of the northernmost parishes of the Washington, DC, diocese. The priest gave a brief homily and started to talk about the annual Archbishop's Lenten Appeal. He also spoke quite well about the benefits, including support for building new churches and providing services to the immigrant communities in the District. Pledge envelops were in the pews and he encouraged us to fill one out and make a commitment before Lent started. We're actually registered at St. Michael the Archangel in Silver Spring, Maryland, which is also in the archdiocese, so we didn't commit on that Sunday.

Two weeks ago we had the honor of being godparents for our friends' first son, Colin Zachary. He was baptized at a Saturday vigil Mass in Columbia, Maryland. As you may have guessed, the priest spoke briefly about the gospel and then pointed out the pledge cards for the Archdiocese of Baltimore Lenten giving campaign that we should fill out (the pews had pledge cards and golf pencils). He actually walked the congregation through filling out the form, using his own information as an example. We aren't members there either, so we didn't fill it out, though it was tempting to fill out the form with his information.

So I think God wants us to donate to a diocese. Possibly multiple dioceses! My wife and I will have to discern prayerfully.

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