I ran across this thanks to the Society of Catholic Priests on Facebook. It’s a horribly unfashionable and yet wondrously delightful manual for preparing to receive Holy Communion. It gladdens my heart to even contemplate people caring enough about receiving Holy Communion that they might engage in some period of preparation. The title alone is from another era: Steps to the altar: a manual of devotions for the blessed eucharist.
Here’s the advice on what to place in the offering. I wish it were widely read.
Before you go to Church, that you may have nothing to distract you there, you should settle with yourself how much of year substance you ought to offer on the Altar.
In deciding this, remember that, if you give so little as not io miss it, you cannot expect God to accept it, and send a blessing in return. You must “not offer unto ths Lord your God of that which costs you nothing.”
You may consider the object for which the money is collected, whether it is for the relief of the sick and needy in your parish, or for building churches, or for promoting the conversion of the heathen, &c, and make your gift accordingly.
Again, if you have many opportunities of giving alms with your own hands, you need not give so much now. Remember, however, that what is offered to God thus solemnly upon the Altar, must be more acceptable to Him, and will bring down, as we may hope, a greater blessing.
If you have few or no opportunitics of giving with your own hand, you ought to give now largely in proportion.
If you are poor, and have but little to give, do not be ashamed to give little. The widow’s two mites were more acceptable to God than the great offerings of others, because she gave all that she had; they gave only what they could well spare.
If you are in debt, or have nothing to give, resolve to do some good work without hope of reward. If your heart is set upon it, you will easily find means of doing a kindness to some one worse off than yourself, or in some way needing assistance. Make up your mind to something of that sort, and offer it to God in secret prayer, while others are giving their alms. And this yon might do always, whether you give alms or not.
Afterwards, lose no time in setting about the good deed which you have vowed. It has become a debt to God, and you must not rest till you have paid it.
Finally, whatever you do, do it “as to the Lord, and not to men.”
Image courtesy of flickr user Niall McAuley.