Feb 24, 2016
Despite Gospel counsels about almsgiving, this ancient practice can arouse negative feelings. Every day whether by phone or mail, agencies plead for donations. To those in extreme indigence like The Bowery Mission, immediate relief must come. Still, you can almost read people's thoughts: 'Do they think we're human ATM machines?'
Americans, and certainly Catholics, are generous people. The Church has a 2,000-year tradition of caring for the needy, a tradition bolstered by papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and patristic writings. St. Lawrence pointed to the poor, saying: "They are treasures in whom is Christ, in whom is faith."
Yet, extortionists like bona fide mendicants compete with legitimate organizations seeking to care for the needy. The Apostolic Constitutions (4th c) warns that "Alms must not be given to the malicious, intemperate, or the lazy, lest a premium should be set on vice."
Three Types of Giving: Almsgiving, Stewardship, and Philanthropy