The Virtue of Charity

So often we hear the word “love” thrown around. Often it is used to provide allowances for immoral behavior. Often times we hear the word “charity” like it is an external thing, such as “I gave to a charity last week”….What is love, or charity? It is the virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor  as ourselves for the love of God. Charity says, “I love God above all things simply because He is good and deserves to be loved. I will try to please Him in everything by always seeking to know and do His will. I will love everyone else for His sake.” (Baltimore Catechism, 124)

Of course we apply this to our daily lives—as a virtue, charity is given to the soul at Baptism and it is meant to grow stronger everyday. If we do not practice it, it becomes weaker. It is strengthened by daily prayer and remaining close to the Sacraments. Committing a mortal sin cuts off charity—that love of God—in the soul, and it is restored through the sacrament of Confession. 

We need to have a culture which lives in charity according to the truth. This does not mean anything should be supported. The moral teachings of the church, which are not changed by a documentary interview, are like railroad tracks. Yes, the tracks are a limit to the train’s “freedom” but without the tracks, the train only has one outcome: a terrible crash. 

Benedict XVI gives us some clear priorities in our society that we should be really concerned about. Several years ago he wrote the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth)

We must work to promote a culture of life. A country that codifies into law and promotes abortion is doomed to collapse. 

“Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away[67]. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help.” (28)

As Mother Teresa put it,  “Any country that  accepts abortion is not teaching the  people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

Religious Freedom is another essential element. If we want a society where the human person is truly respected, God’s right’s must be respected. 

“the deliberate promotion of religious indifference or practical atheism on the part of many countries obstructs the requirements for the development of peoples, depriving them of spiritual and human resources. God is the guarantor of man’s true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to “be more”…When the State promotes, teaches, or actually imposes forms of practical atheism, it deprives its citizens of the moral and spiritual strength that is indispensable for attaining integral human development and it impedes them from moving forward with renewed dynamism as they strive to offer a more generous human response to divine love” (29)

Stemming from this respect for the human person, including the respect and freedom for him to properly worship God and live according to the commandments is the family and marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. If the family is denigrated, the society will suffer. 

“States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society” (44). Those with same sex attraction are to be treated with love and dignity, but homosexual behavior should never be condoned. The Church has a wonderful apostolate called Courage for those who experience this struggle. The Church has clearly taught, “…that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society.” (CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS)

Three areas that we must defend with every fiber of our being, three areas for which we must pray, three areas that if we wish to have a culture of charity, of true love, we must work to ensure are happening: respect for human life most especially in the womb, religious freedom, and the protection of marriage and the family. Our Lord clearly points out that if we wish to enter the kingdom, love for God and neighbor are paramount. We cannot say we love our neighbor if we go against God. The two go hand in hand. We should invoke our Blessed Mother’s protection and intercession. 

2 Comments on “The Virtue of Charity

  1. Dear Father, I recently read that Mother Teresa was asked how do I know what I should say in my weekly homily? She responded, write what He tells you! This is an example of following that advice! Thank you!

    Like

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