Lent — the season of giving

By  Darryl Wilson, Youth Speak News
  • March 9, 2009
Secular society generally views the Christmas season as the season of giving but what we often forget is that giving is a big part of the Lenten season as well.

Giving is practised through alms giving, particularly during Lent because we are honouring the fact that Christ gave so much for us. As Catholics, we are all called to give in Christ’s name.

While Lent is about giving up something (fasting), it’s also about putting something positive in its place. I find that too often we reduce our alms giving to writing a cheque or throwing money in the collection basket on a Sunday when as Christians we are called to do so much more. While service to the poor is a year round calling, Lent is a good time to explore the ways that we as youth can get involved and make resolutions to do that over the remainder of the year.

I have always enjoyed getting involved on a regular basis, but this Lent I thought I should do something much different. Because my volunteering had became so routine, it no longer felt like a sacrifice.

So I decided to embark on a six-month mission trip to the Philippines where I would donate and devote my time to Gawad Kalinga, an organization that revitalizes families and communities while bringing people out of poverty. To give of my time for a lengthy period is far more valuable than any cheque I could write. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to get in touch with my ancestry and to give those less fortunate a chance at obtaining all that we have been blessed with here in Canada.

Often when we finish high school, we don’t know what we want to do with our lives and end up working for a year or two or simply travelling. I would encourage all youth to consider a mission trip as a Lenten gift. Not only do you sacrifice wages and time with your friends and family but you give of yourself in a way that God intended you to use your gifts.

If a mission trip is not your call, there are plenty of other things a young person can do. Giving alms can be done in so many ways. I love to encourage youth to get involved in the community. There are so many beneficial experiences not just for youth but for the beneficiaries as well, such as building a house for Habitat for Humanity over spring break.

Charity can also start at home. It could be mowing your neighbour’s lawn or taking your friend’s dog for a walk. Perhaps you might consider giving your parents a break and picking one of their chores to do for a week. Or better yet, offer to babysit once a month so that your parents can enjoy an evening out. If one of your friends is struggling in a class, you might offer to tutor them. You might even consider teaching catechism at your church. All of these activities represent not just alms giving but our calling to be servant leaders and disciples of Jesus Christ. The spirit of Christ and social justice is embodied in all of these activities.

(Wilson, 24, studies tourism management at Camosun College in Victoria.)

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