Alms or almsgiving is the giving materially to another as an act of charity to benefit the poor and needy, given for Christ’s sake. For Orthodox Christians almsgiving is an important part of an individual’s spiritual life. When one fasts, the fasting should be accompanied by prayer and almsgiving.
The need to contribute toward the welfare of the poor and needy appears throughout the Holy Scripture and in the works of the Church Fathers. Since the Apostolic times the history of the Church has shown that Christians fully realized the importance of the obligation to almsgiving.
As a spiritual offering and a Christian duty that is not enforced by human law, the acts of charity are considered virtuous only if the almsgiving is not done for others to admire. Jesus makes plain the environment in which charity and almsgiving should be done.
- Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. - (Matthew 6:1)
- Rather, give as alms what is inside, and then everything will be clean for you! - (Luke 11:41)
- He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on. - (Luke 21:1-4)
- He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." - (Matthew 25:45)
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Alms and Almsgiving
- Kallistos (Ware), Bishop; Mary, Mother (1978), The Lenten Triodion, South Canaan PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 2002, pp. 35ff, ISBN 1-878997-51-3