"...rear the infants; train the young; support the aged; encourage the fainthearted; gather together the scattered; lead back those who wander astray, and join them to Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church...protect the widows; defend the orphans; deliver the captives; heal the sick...those that are under trial, in the mines, in exile, in bitter bondage, in every tribulation, necessity and danger, do Thou remember O God... Be Thou Thyself all things to all men, O Thou Who knowest every man, his petitions, each house and its need..." ~ Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
In Christ's teaching, alms-giving goes together with fasting and prayer. We have seen that this is also the teaching of Isaiah (See Fasting) and of the Old Testament generally. When one prays and fasts, one must show love through active generosity to others.
As with fasting and prayer, the gifts of help to the poor must be done strictly in secret, so much so that one should, as it were, even hide from himself what he is giving to others, not letting one hand know what the other is doing. Every effort must be made, if the gift will be pleasing to God, to avoid all ostentation and boastfulness in its giving.
Such was the command of the law of Moses as well.
Such also was the teaching of Wisdom.
According to St. John Chrysostom, no one can be saved without giving alms and without caring for the poor. St. Basil the Great says that a man who has two coats or two pair of shoes, when his neighbor has none, is a thief. All earthly things are the possessions of God. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell in it." (Psalm 24:1) Men are but stewards of what belongs to the Lord and should share the gifts of His creation with one another as much as they can. To store up earthly possessions, according to Christ, is the epitome of foolishness, and a rich man shall hardly be saved. (cf. Luke 12:15-21)
The reason why a rich man can hardly be saved, according to Jesus, is because when one has possessions, he wants to keep them, and gather still more. For the "delight in riches chokes the word of God, and so it proves unfruitful" in man's heart. (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19, Luke 8:14)
The spiritual person must share what he has with the poor. He must do so cheerfully and not reluctantly, secretly and not for the praise of men. He also must do so, as the poor widow in the gospel, not out of his abundance, but out of his need.
Giving alms, therefore, must be a sacrificial act if it has any spiritual worth. One cannot give merely what is left over when all his own needs are satisfied. One must take from oneself and give to others. In the spiritual tradition of the Church it is the teaching that what one saves through fasting and abstinence, for example during the special lenten seasons, should not be kept for other times but should be given away to the poor.
The one who is truly perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect is the one who gives all for the sake of others, in the name of Christ, with Him, and for His sake. Such a person is most truly living the spiritual life.
From St. Basil the Great:
Send your treasures to the heavenly storage room. Deposit your wealth in God’s Bank, distributing it to the poor, the orphans and the widows, so that you can receive a million times more in the Second coming of Christ… REF:Elder Joseph the Hesychast
"Our church walls sparkle with gold, which also glitters upon our ceilings-while the capitals of our pillars are lavishly decorated. The holy vessels are beaten out of costly elements and precious stones. Yet Christ is dying at our doors in the person of His poor, naked and hungry." St Jerome
A man is not saved by having once shown mercy to someone, although, if he scorns someone but once, he merits eternal fire. For 'hungered' and 'thirsty' is said not of one occasion, not of one day, but of the whole life. In the same way 'ye gave me meat', 'ye gave me drink', 'ye clothed me', and so on, does not indicate one incident, but a constant attitude to everyone. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that He Himself accepts such mercy from His slaves (in the person of the needy). Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; SVS Press pg. 72)
A monk had a brother living in the world who was poor, and so he supplied him with all he received from his work. But the more the monk supplied, the poorer the brother became. So the monk went to tell an old man about it. The old man said to him, "If you want my advice, do not give him anything more, but say to him, 'Brother, when I had something I supplied you; now bring me what you get from your work.' Take all he brings you, and whenever you see a stranger or a poor man, give him some of it, begging him to pray for him."
The monk went away and did this. When his secular brother came, he spoke to him as the old man had said, and the brother went sadly away. The first day, taking some vegetables from his field, he brought them to the monk. The monk took them and gave them to the old men, begging them to pray for his brother, and after the blessing he returned home. In the same way, another time, the brother brought the monk some vegetables and three loaves, which he took, doing as on the first occasion, and having received the blessing he went away.
And the secular brother came a third time bringing many provisions, some bread, and fish. Seeing this, the monk was full of wonder, and he invited the poor so as to give them refreshment. The he said to his brother, "Do you not need a little bread?" The other said to him, "No, for when I used to receive something from you, it was like fire coming into my house and burning it, but now that I receive nothing from you, God blesses me."
Then the monk went to tell the old man all that had happened, and the old man said to him, "Do you not know that the work of the monk is of fire, and where it enters, it burns? It helps your brother more to do alms with what he reaps from his field, and to receive the prayers of the saints and thus to be blessed." "The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (Oxford: SLG Press, 1986), pp. 43-44
Above all things: Forget not the poor, but support them to the extent of you means. Give to the orphan, Protect the widow, and permit the mighty to destroy no man. Take not the life of the just or the unjust, nor permit him to be killed. Destroy no Christian soul, even though he be guilty of murder." (The Primary Chronicle, A.D. 1096.) Vladimir Monomakh in his Testament to his children
Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all. St. John Chrysostom
Almsgiving heals the soul's incensive power; fasting withers sensual desire; prayer purifies the intellect and prepares it for contemplation of created beings. For the Lord has given us commandments which correspond to the powers of the soul. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 79)
An old man and a brother lived their ascetic life together. Now the old man was charitable. It happened that there was a famine and people came to his door seeking alms, and in charity the old man gave to all who came. Seeing what was happening, the brother said to the old man, "Give me my share of the loaves, and do what you like with yours." The old man divided the loaves and gave alms from his share.
Now many people hastened to the old man, learning that he supplied everyone, and God -- seeing that he supplied everyone -- blessed these loaves. But when the brother had consumed his own food he said to the old man, "Since I have only little food left, abba, take me back into the common life again." The old man said, "I will do as you wish." So they began again to live in common. When scarcity broke out again, the needy came back seeking alms.
Now one day the brother came in and saw they were short of loaves. A poor man came, and the old man told the brother to give him alms. He said, "It is no longer possible, father." The old man said to him, "Go in and look." The brother went inside and found the bin full of loaves. When he saw that, he was filled with fear, and taking some he gave to the poor. In this way, he learned the faith and virtue of the old man, and he gave glory to God. The Desert Fathers
Blessed is he who is considerate to the needy and the poor. Not even night should interrupt you in your duty of mercy. There should be no delay between your intention and your good deed. Generosity is the one thing that cannot admit of delay. He who does acts of mercy should do so with cheerfulness. The grace of the deed is doubled when it is done with promptness and speed. What is given with a bad grace or against one's will is distasteful and far from praiseworthy. When we perform an act of kindness we should rejoice and not be sad about it. Let us visit Christ whenever we may, let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal or by anointing him as Mary did, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi.
The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places. a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzes
Come let us cleanse ourselves by almsgiving and acts of mercy to the poor,
Not sounding a trumpet or making a show of our charity.
Let not our left hand know what our right hand is doing;
Let not vainglory scatter the fruit of our almsgiving;
But in secret let us call on Him that knows all secrets;
Father, forgive us our trespasses, for Thou lovest mankind." Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins. - "The Lenten Triodion"
Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, "This is my body," and made it so by his word, is the same who said, "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me." Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls. St. John Chrysostom "On the Gospel of St. Matthew", 50, iii (PG 58, 508)
Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead. St. John Chrysostom
He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men's bodily needs. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 24)
Human beings have accumulated in their coffers gold and silver, clothes more sumptuous than useful, diamonds and other objects that are evidence of war and tyranny; then a foolish arrogance hardens their hearts; for their brothers in distress, no pity. What utter blindness! . . . Attend not to the law of the strong but to the law of the Creator. Help nature to the best of your ability, honor the freedom of creation, protect your species from dishonor, come to its aids in sickness, rescue it from poverty .... Seek to distinguish yourself from others only in your generosity. Be like gods to the poor, imitating God's mercy. Humanity has nothing so much in common with God as the ability to do good. St. Gregory Nazianzen (On Love of the Poor, cited on pp 295-6 of Clement's book)
I have need of one hundred grams of bread a day, and God blesses it. He blesses those hundred grams, but not one gram more. So if I take 110 grams, I have stolen 10 grams from the poor. St Cosmas Aitilos, a great martyr and preacher in Asia Minor
If a man has one day provided for all the bodily needs of the poor, but, being able to do so on the next day, neglects some of his brethren and leaves them to die of hunger, thirst and cold - then he has neglected and left to die Him Who said: 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me' (Matt. 25:40). Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; SVS Press pg. 73)
If any of their number (the bishops who met at the Council of Nicaea) would have been even more outstanding, it is said to have been Spyridon, a bishop from Cyprus, a man belonging to the order of prophets, so much have we learned from what was said by those who saw him. He remained a shepherd even after he was appointed bishop.
Now one night when thieves approached the fence and stretched forth their wicked hands to make an opening to bring out the sheep, they were held fast by invisible bonds and remained so until daybreak as though they had been handed over to torturers. But when the elder got ready to lead the sheep out to pasture in the morning, he saw the youths hanging stretched upon the fence without human bonds. When he learned the reason for their punishment, he loosed with a word those who were deservedly bound, and lest they should have nothing to show for their nocturnal labors, he said, "Take one of the rams for yourselves, lads, so that you will not have come for nothing; but you would have done better to get it by request than by theft." Rufinus, Ecclesiastical History 10.5, St. Spyridon, commemorated 12 December
If you change from inhumanity to almsgiving, you have stretched forth the hand that was withered. If you withdraw from theaters and go to church, you have cured the lame foot. If you draw back your eyes from a harlot ... you have opened them when they were blind ... These are the greatest miracles. St. John Chrysostom
If you give something to one in need, let the cheerfulness of your face precede your gift, and comfort his sorrow with kind words. When you do this, by your gift the gladness of his mind surpasses even the needs of his body. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian
In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all. St. John Chrysostom
In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions
It is not enough to give. We must have a heart that gives. In order to give, we must have a compassion deep enough for our gift to be forgiven, because if we give dutifully, if we are charitable only in our actions, the recipient receives humiliation and sorrow and pain together with our gift. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (not all of his views may be recommended, but this quote is wonderful)
Just as the poor should give thanks to God and return rich love to those who assist them, so all the more should the wealthy give thanks, for through God's providence they are able to perform acts of charity and so are saved both in this age and in the age to be. For without the poor they cannot save their souls or flee the temptations of wealth. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 125, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 127)
Look at all the earth supplies in summer and in autumn! Every Christian, especially the priest, ought to imitate God's bountifulness. Let your table be open to everybody, like the table of the Lord. The avaricious is God's enemy. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ: Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 46):
No one can say, “I am poor and hence I have no means of giving alms.” For even if you cannot give as the rich gave their gifts into the temple treasury, give two farthings as the poor widow did, and from you God will consider it greater gift than the gifts of the rich. And if you do not have as much as two farthings? You can take pity on the sick and give alms by ministering to them. And if you cannot do event this? You can comfort your brother by your words. “A good word is better than the best of gifts.” Abba Dorotheos
One day, the all-wise (John the Almsgiver, patriarch of Alexandria, 610-619) heard of a generous giver and so he sent for him privately and said jokingly, "How is it that you became so generous? Was it natural to you, or did you put constraint upon yourself?" Some to whom he put this same question stood shamefacedly before him and would not answer, whilst others would tell him their story. One man whom the Saint questioned answered as follows: "As a fact, master, I neither give anything nor do any good; but the little I do give and do from that which comes to me through Christ and your prayers I came to do in this way. Formerly I was very hardhearted and unsympathetic and one day I lost money and was reduced to poverty. Then my reason began to say to me: "Truly, if you had been charitable, God would not have forsaken you." And thereupon I decided to give five coppers [pholleis] a day to the poor. But when I started giving them Satan immediately checked me by saying: "Those coppers would really have been enough to buy a bath-ticket or vegetables for your family." Then I felt at once as if I were taking the money out of my children's mouth and so I gave nothing."
"But I noticed I was being mastered by this vice, so said to my slave: "I want you to steal five coppers daily without my noticing it, and give them in charity." For I am a moneychanger, master."
"My slave, worthy fellow, began by stealing ten coppers, and occasionally even a shilling [keratin]. As he noticed that we were being blessed, he began to steal gold crowns, [trimisia] too, and give them away. One day I was expressing my astonishment at God's blessings to us, I said to him: "Those five coppers, boy, have greatly benefited us.
So now I want you to give ten." At that the slave said to me with a smile: "Yes, be thankful for my thefts, since but for them we should not even have bread to eat today. However if there can be a just thief, I am he!" And then he told me that he had given shillings and even crowns. So it was through his faith, master, that I grew accustomed to giving with all my heart."
The holy Patriarch was much edified by this story and said: "Truly I have read many stories in the lives of the fathers, but I have never heard anything like this !" Leontius, Life of John the Almsgiver, 38
One of the city's landowners once went into the patriarch's room and saw that he (John the Almsgiver -- feast day Nov. 12) was only covered with a torn and worn quilt, so he sent him a quilt costing 36 nomismata and besought him earnestly to cover himself with that in memory, he said, of the giver. John took it and used it for one night because of the giver's insistence, but throughout the night he kept saying to himself, " Who shall say that humble John was lying under a coverlet costing 36 nomismata whilst Christ's brethren are pinched with cold? How many are there at this minute grinding their teeth because of the cold? How many have only a rough blanket half below and half above them so that they cannot stretch out their legs but lie shivering, rolled up like a ball of thread? How many would like to be filled with the outer leaves of the vegetables which are thrown away from my kitchen? How many would like to dip their bit of bread into the soup water which my cooks throw away? How many would like even to have a sniff at the wine which is poured out in my wine cellar? How many refugees are there at this hour in the city who have no lodging-place but lie about in the marketplace, perhaps with the rain falling on them? How many are there who have not tasted oil for one month or even two? How many have no second garment either in summer or winter and so live in misery? And yet you, who hope to obtain everlasting bliss, both drink wine and eat large fishes and spend your time in bed, and now in addition to all those evils you are being kept warm by a coverlet worth 36 nomismata... Blessed be God! You shall not cover humble John a second night! For it is right and acceptable to God that 144 of your brothers and masters should be covered rather than you, one miserable creature! For four rough blankets could be bought for one nomisma." Early on the following morning, therefore he sent it to be sold, but the man who had given it saw it and bought it for 36 nomismata and again brought it to the patriarch. But when he saw it put for sale again the next day he bought it once more and carried it to the patriarch and implored him to use it. When he had done this for the third time the saint said to him jokingly, "Let us see whether you or I will give up first!" For the man was exceedingly well-to-do, and the saint took pleasure in getting money out of him, and he used to say that if with the object of giving to the poor anybody were able, without ill-will, to strip the rich right down to their shirts, he would not do wrong, more especially if they were heartless skinflints. For thereby he gets a two-fold profit, firstly he saves their souls, and secondly he himself will gain no small reward therefrom. Leontius of Neapolis - Life of John the Almsgiver, 21
Said Ioasaph unto the elder, `How then shall I be able to send before me thither treasures of money and riches, that, when I depart hence, I may find these unharmed and unwasted for my enjoyment. ... Quoth Barlaam, `The sending before thee of money to that eternal home is wrought by the hands of the poor. For this, saith one of the prophets, Daniel the wise, unto the king of Babylon, "Wherefore, O Prince, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and redeem thy sins by almsgiving, and thine iniquities by show mercy to the poor." The Saviour also saith, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fall, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph
The Spirit of God says in His goodness, `Do not desist doing good to anyone who is in want, as long as your hand has the means of doing so. Do not say, go and come back; tomorrow I will give you something.' By those words the Holy Spirit actually teaches us not to put things off from day to day, but to do to our soul all the good that is possible, so as to adorn it with every virtue worthy of heaven, so as to clothe it with brilliant vestments according to this agreeable voice, `Let your clothes be brilliant at all times; let your head not lack in oil.' Pachomian Koinonia, V. 3, Instructions
The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving, and the end of it is hatred of the poor. So long as he is collecting he is charitable, but when the money is in hand he tightens his grip. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice
The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit. St. Basil the Great 4th century
The brothers said, "Why is it that the monks are obliged to go around begging for the food and clothes they need, like those who are in the world, although our Lord promised them, saying, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and that of which ye have need shall be given to you’ (Matt. 6:23)?"
The old man said, "This saying is a proof of the wisdom and grace of God toward those who are in the world, for in the majority of cases, the righteousness of the children of this world consists of alms and compassion; but the children of light are righteous people and monks who, in their persons, and in their bodies, and in their thoughts, serve our Lord. And God has made the monks to have need of the children of this world because of His love, so that they may care for each other, and may pray for each other; that is to say, the children of the world must care for the monks and the monks must pray in love for them.
"And as the children of the world make the monks associates with them in the corporeal things of the world, the monks must make the children of the world to be associates with them in the things of heaven, for our Lord spoke to the children of the world, saying, ‘Make ye to yourselves friends of this mammon of iniquity so that when they have become perfect they may receive you into their tabernacles which are forever.’ (Luke 14:9)" E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), p.304
There is your brother, naked and crying! And you stand confused over choice of floor covering. St. Gregory of Nyssa
These, then, are the things in which you must stand firm and follow the Lord's example: be steadfast and immovable in the faith; love the brotherhood; cherish one another; be united in the truth; with the meekness of the Lord give precedence to one another; despise no one. When able to do a work of charity, do not put it off; for almsgiving delivers from death. One and all, submit to each other's rights; for life among the gentiles must be beyond reproach; thus by your good example you will win praise for yourselves and the Lord will not be blasphemed on your account. St. Polycarp, Epistles to the Philippians
Those of you who earn your bread by means of your toil and sweat should rejoice, because that bread is blessed; and if you give a little of it as alms it is reckoned as much. But those who live by means of injustice and grasping should mourn, for what you thus acquire is cursed; and if you give alms out of these they do not benefit you at all, being fire that consumes you. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94
When Abba Sophronius and I were in Alexandria, one day we went to the Church of St. Theodosios. A bald man came towards us who was wearing sack-cloth down to his knees. He seemed to be insane. Abba Sophronius said to me, "Give me a coin and you shall see the virtue of the man who is approaching us." I gave him five copper coins which he took and gave to the one who seemed to be insane. He received them without a word. Keeping ourselves out of sight, we followed him. When he had turned the street corner, he stretched out his right hand - in which he held the coins - towards heaven, held it up high, and then prostrated himself before God. Then, he went his way, leaving the coins on the ground. John Moschus, Leimonarion 111
When a man really considers his neighbor as himself, he will never tolerate having more than his neighbor. If he does nave more, but refuses to share things generously until he himself becomes as poor as his neighbor, then he will find that he has not fulfilled the commandment of the master. He no longer wants to give to all who ask, and instead turns away from someone who asks of him while she still has a penny or a crust of bread. He has not treated his neighbor as he would like to be treated by him. In fact, even if a man had given food and drink and clothes to all the poor, even the least, and had done everything else for them, he has only to despise or neglect a single one and it will be reckoned as if he had passed by Christ and God and He was hungry and thirsty. St. Simeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters
When you can do good, defer it not, because "alms delivers from death." The Epistle Of Polycarp To The Philippians(1)
When you fast and are nourished with abstinence, do not store the leftovers for tomorrow, but, as the Lord became poor and enriched us, feed someone who does not want to be hungry, you who hungers willingly. Then your fast will be like the dove who brings and joyfully proclaims salvation to your soul from the flood. St. Gregory Palamas quoted in The Festive Fast
Whilst this same crowd of people (refugees from Syria) was still in the city (Alexandria), one of the strangers, noticing John (the Almsgiver's) remarkable sympathy, determined to try the blessed man; so he put on old clothes and approached him as he was on his way to visit the sick in the hospitals -- for he did this two or three times a week -- and said to him: "Have mercy upon me for I am a prisoner of war."
John said to his purse-bearer: "Give him six nomismata." After the man had received these he went off, changed his clothes, met John again in another street, and falling at his feet said: "Have pity upon me for I am in want." The Patriarch again said to his purse-bearer: "Give him six nomismata."
As he went away the purse-bearer whispered in the patriarch's ear: "By your prayers, master, this same man has had alms from you twice over!" But the Patriarch pretended not to understand. Soon the man came again for the third time to ask for money and the attendant, carrying the gold, nudged the Patriarch to let him know that it was the same man; whereupon the truly merciful and beloved of God said: "Give him twelve nomismata, for perchance it is my Christ and He is making trial of me." Leontius, Life of St. John the Almsgiver, early 7th century
Whoever will sacrifice houses, or fields, or riches, or glory, father or mother, brothers or sisters, wife or children, or whatever good on earth, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life. For this reason never regret any charitable act, humiliating the poor man that you gave him something, lest by chance, instead of a reward, you suffer double damage; because he who does a good deed and later repents or humiliates the poor man, not only loses his wages, but is also found guilty on Judgment Day. Stories, Sermons and Prayers of St. Nephon: An Ascetic Bishop
You have and eat; give each day to someone who is poor to eat also. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155
almsgiving is good and salutary when to it is united the amendment of the heart from pride, malice, envy, slothfulness, indolence, gluttony, fornication, falsehood, deceitfulness, and other sins. But if the man is not careful to amend his heart, trusting only to his alms, then he will obtain but little benefit from them, for he builds with one hand and destroys with the other. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
Love the poor, and through them you will find mercy. St Isaac of Syria
"The state of love may be recognized in the giving of money, and still more in the giving of spiritual counsel and in looking after spiritual needs." St. Maximos the Confessor (1st Century on Love no. 26, The Philokalia Vol. 2 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware)
Deem him to be a man of God who by reason of much compassion has mortified himself even with regard to necessary wants; for he who gives alms to a poor man has God to take care of him. And a man who has become poor for His sake has found inexhaustible treasures. The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian.
You ask, "Must one do something?" Of course one must! And do whatever comes along - in your circle of friends and in your surroundings -and believe that this is and will be your real work. More will not be demanded of you. It is a great misconception to think, whether for the sake of heaven or, as the modernists put it, to "make one's mark on humanity," that one must undertake great, reverberating tasks. Not at all.
It is necessary only to do everything according to the commandments of God. Just what exactly? Nothing in particular - only those things which present themselves to everyone in the circumstances of life, those things which are required by the every day happenings we all encounter.
This is how God is. God arranges the fate of each man, and the whole course of one's life is also the work of His most gracious foreknowledge, as is, therefore, every minute and every encounter.
Let's take an example: a beggar comes up to you; it is God who has brought him. What should you do? You must help him. God has brought the beggar, of course, desiring you to act toward this beggar in a manner pleasing to Him, and He watches to see what you will actually do ...If you do what is pleasing to God, you will be taking a step toward the ultimate goal, the inheritance of heaven.
Generalize this occurrence, and you find that in every situation and at every encounter one must do what God wants him to do. And we know truly what He wants from the commandments He has given us. If someone seeks help, then help him. If someone has offended you, forgive him. If you yourself have offended someone, then hasten to ask forgiveness and to make peace. St. Theophan the Recluse. Letter to a Young Girl. B#18.
Whereas we receive benefactions from God every minute, we ourselves don’t benefactor even once our neighbor. REF:Saint Basil the Great
God considers His own self constantly obligated for whatever charities you do to your fellow men. REF:Saint Basil the Great
God protects and loves the charitable and philanthropic person. REF:Saint John Chrysostom
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas