Holy Fathers on Charity

“Being charitable means having a heart that burns with love for every creature and desires its good. Alms do not consist solely in giving, but also in compassion, when we see a kindred person living in some kind of misery and help him if we can do anything for him. This (charity) is illustrated in the six commandments of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. Giving alms is just a part of being charitable; it should be done according to your strength, without embarrassment or investigation; even if you give a little, you should do it with good will and hope…”

Saint Macarius of Optina

“There are two kinds of beneficence: the first is to do good to your own soul by works of godliness with humility and non-judgment of others, so as not to be subjected to what the Pharisee was exposed to; the second is to do good to others, by external means, which are also beneficial to our souls, if we do not judge or trust our own thoughts that these means are not used in the way they are supposed to. The most useful thing to do is to do good and to believe without hesitation that we will receive the reward from the Lord for this, according to the Prophet Daniel: The ransom of a man’s life are his riches (Proverbs 13:8). And elsewhere, By mercy and truth iniquity is purged (cf. Proverbs 16:6).”

Saint Ambrose of Optina

“You must be hospitable and follow the commandment of taking care of the poor in accordance with your strength and patience. If you have a surplus then distribute it proportionately so that it does not become a permanent custom for those who come to you. Otherwise, when your own misery occurs, the needy will again look for what they received before. Therefore, be well aware of the reason why the person who comes to you is begging for alms. If that person happens to be a thief, then, as the Fathers have said, give him bread as a blessing and let him go. Given that there are those who only come here to burden you, do not give them reason to be insolent, for they come here to burden you out of parsimony and have no real need. Do not give clothes to anyone without consideration, except when the needy person is very God-fearing and ashamed to ask. When you know the truth, if it turns out that he is completely disinterested and begs for God’s sake, and not for lack of restraint, show him compassion.”

Saint Barsanuphius the Great

“Do not go past the poor man with his hand stretched out, for it is the Lord Himself who stretches out this hand.”

Saint John Chrysostom

“If you have anything more than what you need for a day, give it to the poor and go and pray with boldness, i. e. talk to God as a son talks to his father. Nothing brings the heart closer to God than almsgiving, and nothing makes such silence in the mind as voluntary poverty. It is better for many to call you ignorant for your simplicity than to say that you are wise and perfect because of your glory (in the Syriac text: “for your thriftiness”). If a man on a horse stretches out his hand to you, do not turn him down, because at that time he is undoubtedly as poor as one of the beggars. When you give, give with generosity, with tenderness on your face, and give him more than he asked for. For it is said, Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:1).”

Saint Isaac the Syrian

“The virtuous and merciful God commanded us to be virtuous and merciful, and to be sorrowful both for ourselves and for each other.”

Saint Symeon the New Theologian

“When a Christian sends his corruptible property to heaven, he will bring his heart to heaven in an inconspicuous way, as the Lord Himself testified: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34).”

Saint Ignatius (Bryanchaninov)

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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