Beloved Clergy and Faithful of our Archdiocese,
Blessings to you and your families in the name of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!
As we enter Great Lent—this consecrated season of repentance—the Church summons us to focus even more intently on drawing near to God. She shows us proven paths of approach to Him: not just fasting and prayer but also sharing our material blessings with others. From the saints we learn that charitable giving is not just about helping our neighbor, but even more importantly, it is a means of approach to God. St. Paul encourages us, “Do not forget to do good and to share, for God is well pleased with such sacrifices” (Heb. 13:16), and he thus teaches us that charity is a form of holy sacrifice—an act of worship that shows our love for God and invites Him into our lives.
In the same vein, St. John Chrysostom describes philanthropy as a holy and priestly ministry, urging us to “put on the vestment of philanthropy, which is holier than the priestly clothing.” He goes on to exhort us: “When you see a poor believer, think that you behold an altar; when you see a miserable beggar, do not just refrain from insulting him but even reverence him” (Homily 20 on Second Corinthians). His words remind us that people in need do us a service, by providing us a way to show God love and honor. For, as our Lord said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40).
With this in mind, over the past 48 years our Archdiocese has encouraged you to give alms during Lent through Food for Hungry People and Charitable Outreach. Once again, we appeal to your generosity and your love of God, asking you to offer God a gift by putting food and other necessities into the hands of the poor. May your gift from the heart be received by God as a pleasing and holy sacrifice, and may He give you in return the joy of His presence.
With prayers that we all be granted strength for the holy struggle ahead and that we be found worthy to celebrate joyously the victory of our Crucified and Risen Lord, I remain,
Your Father in Christ,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America