Fasting and Almsgiving

The three practices one observes during Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. While prayer is "in-season" with any liturgical season, fasting and almsgiving receive special notice during the penitential season. The ancient practices of fasting and almsgiving during Lent are actually integrally related. When one gives up something during Lent (say chocolate), then one calculates the cost of the (chocolate) one would have eaten during Lent and gives that money to the poor. This connection seems to have been lost these days. Now the emphasis is on fasting as a solo discipline or perhaps combining fasting with prayer to draw nearer to God. Given that in Scripture Jesus tells us over and over again to treat the least of these as if one would treat Jesus himself, it makes sense to connect fasting with almsgiving in this way.