When someone offers his property to
God, let him offer it not as with the boldness of one who gives a
gift but with the humility of one who pays a debt.
Almsgiving does not absolve all
sins; it merely mitigates them. So, offer your almsgiving not as one
buying his salvation but as a duty of supplication.
Almsgiving, even if you give up
all, is not paying the whole debt, but merely a small part of it.
So, when offering all to God, lament that your offering is little
Should you give all? No. The amount
is unimportant. It is how you give. You must give with faith, with
humble entreaty, with prayer, with the intention that what you give
is merely returning to God what is His, with the thought that what
is with God is more profitable for you than what is left in this
Do you really know how much is
needed to compensate for your sins? If not, then offer as much as
you can. If you have little to offer, then at least offer with
devotion and piety. Because there are things you should not and
cannot give, be generous in what you can give.
"Redeem your sins by
alms." i.e. pay the price for your sins. You alone know how
much you owe. If you think it is not necessary to give up all
because of your few sins, don't do so. But, think well. Your lies,
cursing, perjury, carelessness in thoughts, foulness of speech, evil
wishes and desires; then there are your adultery, fornication,
impurities, uncleanness and avarice. Have you paid for all of these?
And this is only for the redemption of your sins. How about the
things you still have to do for your salvation?
It is difficult even for young
people to work out the redemption of their sins; much more so for
the older, and most difficult for one in his last moments, even
amidst great liberality. So, never presume anything. For Scripture
tells us what to do but the procurement of forgiveness is ". .
.perhaps." And so, a sinner who wises to obtain forgiveness
from God at a late hour must be engaged in copious liberality.
St. Salvian, Book 1