Notable quotations from Pope Benedict XVI and official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters.
In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duly to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
This year ... I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods.
The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk 16:13).
Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor's needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness.
Almsgiving ... is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, Who, dying on the cross, give His entire self for us.
In giving alms, we offer something material, a sign of the greater gift we can impart to others through the announcement and witness of Christ, in Whose name is found true life.
(Source: Lenten message, dated October 30, 2007)
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