Almsgiving: How Much is Enough?

Money isn’t always something we like to talk about. It’s often considered taboo, and a result of that is the Christian responsibility to give alms is often overlooked. Maybe you think that almsgiving is not for you. You don’t have much to give, so you can leave that to those who have an abundance of wealth. Or maybe you do have an abundance, and you wonder if you’re giving enough?

No matter your financial situation,as a Christian almsgiving is something you should be taking to prayer. Monsignor James Patrick Shea, president of the University of Mary, stopped by Morning Air® to discuss the importance of almsgiving, and how it can help us grow in the Christian life.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “And when you open the pages of the Gospel you realize that one of the things that can really corrupt our hearts and minds is when we become attached to the things of the material world. When we think we can form a life that is dependent on ourselves – upon our own industry, upon our own abilities, upon our own securities – then oftentimes people give an excuse to not live a meaningful life, because they don’t have enough.”

Msgr. Shea pointed out that the reason we are often hesitant to give to others is because we focus so much on what we don’t have, rather than focusing on the blessings we have received. He said, “We think, ‘I don’t have enough time, talent, security, resources. But when I have enough, I’ll live a meaningful life.’  But the fact of the matter is, that’s a response of scarcity, it’s not a response of gratitude.”

“When we really believe that the Gospel is true, then we know it’s not a question of scarcity, it’s a question truly of abundance. We’ve been given so much that there is no way we could ever navigate that tremendous gift of grace.”

One of the reasons almsgiving is such a beautiful spiritual practice is that it is an acknowledgement of our gratitude, an act of trust, and an act of charity. And that benefits both us and the recipient of our giving.

“One of the great spiritual practices is that we unite ourselves with Christ in the Gospel, and we do engage in care for the poor and in giving of our resources to those who are deeply in need of it,” Msgr. Shea said. “And that’s not just to help them, it’s to help us. It’s to free us from dependence upon ourselves, and to recognize that our security lies in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

Recall the story in the Bible of the rich young man. He obeyed all the commandments, but Christ called him to more. It was not enough that the rich young man honored God in his private life, it was necessary that his devotion to the Lord led him to help those around him.

“Our lives are meant to be apostolic,” said Msgr. Shea. “In other words, we’re not meant simply to have our faith as a private devotional activity that helps us in a private way. Our lives, our faith, our devotion, is meant to spill out over in such a way that it assists everyone around us as well.”

“And so, what we do is we scan the horizon and we see the needs in our local parish, the people in our local community who are in need of help, a great apostolate like Relevant Radio® that’s touching so many lives. Here are some things I can be a part of by my financial support that really do great work and sustain the apostolic activity that I’ve benefited from in being evangelized. It expends that to the rest of the world.”

Making a commitment to almsgiving may be scary, but life with Christ is always an adventure, and the eternal rewards are always worth it. Msgr. She said, “The Christian life is meant to be a high and mighty adventure, which has quite a bit of danger in it as well. But it’s important. So life is difficult, but it’s good. It’s very good. And we forget that when we’re seduced away from God by attachments to material things. That’s the importance of almsgiving, that it sets us free from that.”

If you are looking for a Catholic charity to direct your almsgiving toward, consider giving the gift of hope by making a pledge to the Relevant Radio May Pledge Drive. Your support helps bring a message of hope and mercy to millions in need. Every pledge matters, so make yours today!

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.