19.02.2008 Religion

Give alms to the poor – Pope tells Catholics

By Accra Mail
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Pope Benedict XVI has
called on all Catholics to
give alms to the poor and help those in need during this period of Lent.

“Alms giving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy, rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbour, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross gave his entire self for us”, he said.

Pope Benedict XVI made the call in his Lenten message sent to all Catholics to guide them during the Lenten season to do what is pleasing to God and live lives worthy of Christ.

Lent is a 40-day period of repentance and self–denial that Catholics undertake in remembrance of the Passion of Christ and to prepare themselves for his resurrection at Easter. It started on February 6th and will end in the third week of March.

He asked all Catholics to, in their effort at renewing themselves, fast and pray seriously besides being generous to those in need.

The Pope explained that each year, Lent offered a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of the lives of Christians and stimulates them to rediscover the mercy of God so they too in turn became more merciful towards others.

“According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess, these then are not to be considered as our exclusive possessions but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of his providence for our neighbour.”

He advised Christians not to seek to publicise their generosity to others but follow the call of Jesus Christ not to let one's left hand know what the right hand was doing.

“This understanding must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbour, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the centre of attention. If in accomplishing a good deed, we do not have as our goal God's glory and the real well-being of our brothers and sisters, looking rather for a return of personal interest or simply applause, we place ourselves outside of the Gospel”, he said.

“Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving”, he noted, saying, “when we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being, indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters. Every time when for love of God we share our goods with our neighbour in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy.”

Most Reverend Lucas Abadamloora, Bishop of Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese, in his Lenten message to the people of the Upper East Region and parts of the Northern Region, explained that Lent was about rejecting everything that tarnished the image of Christ, whether in the individual Christian or the whole Christian community.

“We are called upon during this period to make repeated amends and to rectify what can and must be corrected so that we may present ourselves in a fashion that is comparable to salt that gives soup its taste or light that dispels darkness”, he said.

He said the renewal that Lent demanded of Catholics must be extensive and involve reforming their ways of thinking and judging, attitudes, behaviour, personal and collective habits.

He asked all Catholics in the Diocese to abstain from alcohol on every Friday during Lent as part of their obligation to fast, saying, the practice of fasting and prayer culminated in almsgiving and one should fast to be able share.

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