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a passionate repentance

it's a long road. But there are guides. These are things I've learned.

it's a long road. But there are guides. These are things I've learned.

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may God stand
Posted with permission.
--- In orthodox-convert@yahoogroups.com, Chrisiant@a... wrote:
>
> Dear all;
> This might well be an AYP or TTYP question, but I have a question
about
> almsgiving. First..what is it? And secondly, how do you do it? And
thirdly, is
> this related to what's called tithing? Can anyone share *their*
experiences?
> Thank you.
>
> Nicole
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>

Dear Nicole,

As I understand it, there is "tithing" and there is the "giving of
alms." Tithing is what we give to support our Church, and the work of
the local parish. The "tithe" according to the Old Testament was 10%.
St. Paul wrote that we should give as we are able, and as the Holy
Spirit leads us, and to do so willingly; for, "God loveth a cheerful
giver." Thus, the tithe (as a 10% measure) is a guideline, not a law:
and there are those who are able to give more, and should do so.

Alms, on the other hand, are what we give to help those in need in the
church, and in the world around us. Thus, if you give to support a
local food bank, you are giving alms; if you give a dollar or two to
the folks standing on the streetcorner with the cardboard signs
saying, "Will work for food," you are giving alms. Feeding the
hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, caring for the poor
and the widow and the orphan -- all these are giving alms. (And no,
what goes to these ends from your tax dollars does not count as either
alms or offerings...)

Why does the Orthodox Church teach us to give? In part, because there
is the very real danger of being "possessed by our possessions." If
we cling to the things of this material world, it weighs us down
spiritually, and attachs us to this world, rather than being focused
on the world to come, which is our eternal dwelling place. When we
give, we are, in one way, depriving ourselves of what that wealth
could bring us in terms of the benerfits of this world -- and so we
set ourselves free from the things of this world. It is somewhat like
fasting; a little bit goes a long way, spiritually. Giving also
requires us to take a look at our lifestyle, and see where we can --
or must -- make changes in order to give for the Church and the needs
of others. This process of examination also is an opportunity to be
less "this-worldly" and more "other-worldly." Finally (for this
message, at least!) we give to acknowledge that all that we have,
beginning with our life itself, and all the skills that are ours to
use to obtain all that we have, are gifts entrusted to us by God.
When we give, we do so with the intention to acknowledge, "All things
come of Thee, O Lord; and of Thine own have we given Thee." The
wealth is no longer *mine* -- I am but a steward, and so must give an
account of what has been entrusted to me. How did I use it? For
myself alone? Or for the benefit of others?

Your unworthy servant in Christ,
Priest John McCuen
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