Alms-giving is the practice where Hearers provide food offerings to the Elect/Monks as an act of sacrifice and petitioning for intercession. Regular alms-giving is part of the Manichaean religion as mandated by Mar Mani himself.
Alms-giving is viewed as a divinely mandated responsibility for all those who adhere to the Religion. Alms-giving is traditionally practiced once each week and on high holy days. Alms-giving is different than the giving of tithes. The latter is giving ten percents of one’s income to the work of the Church, divided among the local congregation or mission. Alms is related to food offerings while tithes are related to monetary offerings. When one has no tithes to give, in some situations, a person’s time in divine service is accepted as such. If one is unable to provide actual food offerings to the Monks, then monetary offerings can be made in place of the food. A representative for the Monks then purchases food on the Hearer’s behalf.
On rarely hears Manichaean clergy asking congregations or study groups for donations. We already know it is our divine responsibility. We do not ask for gifts or alms from those who are not Manichaeans, but we appreciate any thing others may wish to provide.
When we offer alms upon the Bema, we are seeking intercession for ourselves and for the world. Hearers present their food offerings to the Elect. The Elect in turn recite special prayers and chants over the offerings, consume a portion of it and the act of forgiveness of sin, the renewal of the spirit and the blessing of the hands is accomplished.