Priests Answer: Why Is Charity an Inseparable Part of Spiritual Life?

It is not a secret that St. Elisabeth Convent is running various charitable project to support people in need. The Catalog of Good Deeds is one such projects, too. On September 5, which was proclaimed by the UN as the International Day of Charity, we decided to ask the fathers from our Convent about what they think on charity in the context of our Orthodox faith. 

Fr. George Glinski: Charity is an inseparable part of a Christian community’s life, and we know that from the Holy Scripture. We can read about the life of the early Christian Church, the circumstances in which that Church existed and see how numerous early Christian communities, which we could name local churches today, helped each other and supported each other not only spiritually in their prayers, but also materially. For example, Apostle Paul writes that Christians from new religious communities supported the Christians of the Jerusalem Church. The Gospel calls us upon to help not just our brothers in Christian faith, with whom we make up the one body of Christ, but also strive to help any person because we all bear the image of Christ inside ourselves. So, our deeds of mercy and our love should not be targeted at the humanity only because the whole universe is called upon to transfigure through the human being, who is supposed to be a mediator between God and all the other creatures. As St. Maximos the Confessor wrote, “The human being is supposed to be the one through whom the grace of God will be spilled all over the world”. This is why it is rather important that we take part in the life of those people who need our help, drawing on our own possibilities and forces. If we cannot help with money, we can help with our wholehearted prayer. We should strive to do acts of mercy where it is possible by our own forces, and where our forces are limited, we should ask for God’s help, so that the Lord acts through our prayer and helps the people who really need His help, whatever help it should be.

Fr. Andrew Malahovsky: Charity is one of the possibilities to be within God’s grace. There is mercantilism in the world and of course, it will exist forever. This mercantilism is predetermined by certain economical motivations, when we try to find out whether there is any profit for us or not. So, it is just a human attitude. But if we talk about charity and mercy, it means that the grace of God’s  world is joining the human world. There is no mercantilism in it, there is only a pure desire to do good, the desire to take part in other person’s life. Charity always means sacrifice. A person gives not just something useless, but something what is essential for him in some way.

It is also great when our charitable work is connected with the interpersonal relations. When it is not just like someone brings some clothes or money somewhere or hands them out to a boarding home and forgets about this. Sometimes it is quite easy for us to leave some things. However, when there is a personal contact, when the one who gives and the one who takes see each other, then the work of such act of mercy becomes more deep and spiritual. One has to find time for another person, to talk to this person, to devote this time to him. It is not just financial help, which is more simple. Such involvement in other person’s life is more difficult, because in this case we talk about the sacrifice of our soul.

Fr. Artemii Tonoyan: In fact, any liturgy is charity. The Body of Christ and we all are charity. You know what the Lord says about it: “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). We cannot even say more. Our life should be filled with God. We have to keep this state always inside ourselves, you see? Just do what you can do and leave… Do what the Lord lets you do. Nothing is possible without God. We all have the heart, and it will say us what to do. We just need to listen to it and see God in everything.

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