What is Charity?

Happy Thursday Ladies, These last few days we have taken a look at how greed can affect us by constantly turning the focus on us and getting what we want, when we want it. Let’s take a look at the virtue that turns our focus towards the other.

Charity. Charity, also known as love, can be described very simply as a choice of the will towards what it best and good for the other. I want to quote the Catechism for this one because it gives us a really beautiful explanation of how charity can be seen in action towards our neighbour in order to combat greed:

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:.” (CCC 2447)

We are also reminded by Christ in Luke’s Gospel how we are called to serve one another and share that which we have plenty of (Luke 3:11).

This virtue I also want to connect with generosity (or liberality). St. Thomas quotes Aristotle by describing this act “as [consisting], not in the quantity given, but in the habit of the giver” and again by quoting St. Ambrose who says, “it is the heart that makes a gift rich or poor, and gives things their value." (ST. II. II. Q117. A1).

When we act out of charity, act generously, we bring our focus towards serving the other and that keeps us from falling into the vice of greed which likes to take only for our own selfish gain. One thing I want to bring to your attention ladies is notice how St. Thomas stresses the aspect of generosity not being defined by quantity.

To be generous does not mean I give a lot. To be generous means to give with the heart. I can give hundreds of dollars a month to the poor, but have no love in that act. Am I being generous? No.

St. Paul even reminds us of this in his famous letter about love in 1 Corinthians 13. Every act that we do for our neighbour needs to be centered on the intention of love, or else it means nothing.

Today, I want you to take a look at our day and pick one person. This can be our spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc., and I want you to make an extra act of charity towards them. This can be something like picking up an extra chore for your mom at home, stopping by a friends with a cup of coffee to wish them a good day, doing something extra for your spouse to let them know you are thinking of them. Focus on the quality of the action instead of the quantity. How can you show them you love them today?

Come Holy Spirit, and give us a heart of love.

Walking together, Sandra

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