by Lesle Knop
Although it may seem as if the Christmas decorations were just put away, it is time for Lent to begin.
It starts next week with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10. So, let’s talk about almsgiving, which is one of the pillars of the Lenten season, when we intentionally share God’s goodness with others.
Giving alms is the way that we, the children of God, imitate God’s generosity.
I appreciate the gift of the Lenten season in the liturgical calendar of our church. The 40 days spent in fasting, prayer and almsgiving are Christian stewards’ way of offering themselves and their love to God.
From my office at the chancery, I am privileged to witness firsthand the outpouring of love from the Catholic faithful in northeast Kansas. These early winter months are when envelopes arrive in our office from our parishes, with hundreds and hundreds of generous commitments to the Archbishop’s Call to Share. As these gifts arrive, they are recorded by faithful and capable Catholic workers.
Along with financial gifts, many parishioners throughout the 21 counties of the archdiocese submit prayer requests. These prayer petitions are sent directly to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s office and, in turn, some of the thousands of petition cards are forwarded to Archbishop James P. Keleher.
I have seen stacks of Archbishop’s Call to Share prayer request cards on the archbishop’s personal desk in the chapel at his home where he celebrates Mass and offers daily prayers.
Like tithing, our Lenten sacrifices are not just mere suggestions. We have been told that we must do these things. Indeed, the Bible provides several passages of instructions that specify our need to help the poor and to be generous with God’s gifts.
This year, in proclaiming the jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to “entrust all humanity to Christ . . . so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God.” I believe that the Archbishop’s Call to Share appeal is an invitation to reach out with this goodness and tenderness, to give alms.
As Lent begins, if you have not already made a gift to the Archbishop’s Call to Share, I invite you to do so as a sign of your compassion. Your gift allows many others to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy the Lord demands of us.
So, as Ash Wednesday approaches, let’s put on a smile and not let the world know that we are making sacrifices for God.
With God’s grace, let’s use our gifts to do more to love our neighbor, forgive our enemy, serve the poor and to help the Catholic Church fulfill its mission to lead souls to Christ.