What should we give to the poor?

“…To give new life to the poor” (Rule of Benedict 4.14)

CHUM slogan The language of welfare is quantitative and rather meager. We provide subsistence, a threshold, a safety net, or perhaps a level playing field. If no one dies, it has been successful.

The Benedictine Rule uses a different metric: “Did the poor receive new life?” Even generous material support can fail to accomplish this. Innovative programs that gather the poor to work collaboratively around the problems they choose – and give resources to those solutions – enliven the community.

Could we use the same metric – “Did someone receive new life?” – for each encounter? Imagine what it might ask of us! What we might do!


Tooling Through Lent is a series of brief reflections on Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict, The Tools for Good Works.

About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
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