In many religions, a kind person is meant to do good things for the poor. Charitable acts are also known as almsgiving. In the time of Lent, Catholics are encouraged to show kindness to those who cannot provide for themselves. Pope Francis notes that “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance.”
Almsgiving transcends many religions, many cultures, many traditions. Charitable good was meant to pass from hand to hand, with simple kindness as its catalyst. Donate non-perishable goods to the nearest food bank. Stuff some old coats and sweaters into a clothing bin. Drop a few bills in the collection basket at church or throw some coins into the Salvation Army pot. Volunteer your time in a shelter or other city program. Find your favorite charity’s web site and donate online!
Tonight, the streets of Boston will be patrolled by the homeless. They will hold out used coffee cups to collect spare change. Some of them frequent the spaces between cars at busy intersections. The effort is dangerous, but they have no choice. Your response is simple: roll down the window and give them some money. The last fellow accepted my last donation with the words, “Boy, it’s been a while since I saw a dollar!” This is reflex charity. Call it almsgiving. Call it help. Call it good. No matter how you describe it, people will always need your kindness.