Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

“You have to live in harmony with your fellow men and understand them”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2016/02/12 at 12:00 AM
You have to live in harmony with your fellow men and understand them as a brother would. As the Spanish mystic says, you have to put love where there is no love to obtain love. (The Forge, 457)

Christ, who came to save all mankind and who wishes Christians to be associated with him in the work of redemption, wanted to teach his disciples — you and me — to have a great and sincere charity, one which is more noble and more precious: that of loving one another in the same way as Christ loves each one of us. Only then, by imitating the divine pattern he has left us, and notwithstanding our own rough ways, will we be able to open our hearts to all men and love in a higher and totally new way.

Tertullian writing in the second century tells us how impressed the pagans were by the behaviour of the faithful at that time. So attractive was it both supernaturally and humanly that they often remarked: ‘See how they love one another.’

If you think, looking at yourself now or in so many things you do each day, that you do not deserve such praise; that your heart does not respond as it should to the promptings of God, then consider that the time has come for you to put things right.

The principal apostolate we Christians must carry out in the world, and the best witness we can give of our faith, is to help bring about a climate of genuine charity within the Church. For who indeed could feel attracted to the Gospel if those who say they preach the Good News do not really love one another, but spend their time attacking one another, spreading slander and quarrelling? (Friends of God, 225-226)


We are all one in Christ

In 07 Observations on 2015/11/06 at 12:00 AM

Your love for your neighbors needs to be shown in actions that are appropriate to their circumstances and needs. You just cannot have an attitude of love that is theoretical and abstract.

Charity towards your neighbor van be:

1. forgiving someone who has offended you or injured you in any way

2. wishing another well and praying for their needs

3. instructing someone about God

4. praying for the conversion of those who do not know God

5. giving pleasure to someone by what you say or do

6. being compassionate and consoling the hurting or grieving.

“Learn how to do good”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/07/31 at 12:00 AM
When you are with someone, you have to see a soul: a soul who has to be helped, who has to be understood, with whom you have to live in harmony, and who has to be saved. (The Forge, 573)

I like to repeat what the Holy Spirit tells us through the prophet Isaiah, discite benefacere, learn how to do good…

Charity towards our neighbor is an expression of our love of God. Accordingly, when we strive to grow in this virtue, we cannot fix any limits to our growth. The only possible measure for the love of God is to love without measure; on the one hand, because we will never be able to thank him enough for what he has done for us; and on the other, because this is exactly what God’s own love for us, his creatures, is like: it overflows without calculation or limit.

Mercy is more than simply being compassionate. Mercy is the overflow of charity, which brings with it also an overflow of justice. Mercy means keeping one’s heart totally alive, throbbing in a way that is both human and divine, with a love that is strong, self‑sacrificing and generous. (Friends of God, 232)

“You will be able to support one another”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/02/27 at 12:00 AM
When you love other people and you spread that affection – Christ’s kindly, gentle charity – all around you, you will be able to support one another, and if someone is about to stumble he will feel that is being supported, and also encouraged, to be faithful to God through this fraternal strength. (The Forge, 148)

When the fullness of time comes, no philosophical genius, no Plato or Socrates appears to fulfill the mission of redemption. Nor does a powerful conqueror, another Alexander, take over the earth. Instead a child is born in Bethlehem. He it is who is to redeem the world. But before he speaks he loves with deeds. It is no magic formula he brings, because he knows that the salvation he offers must pass through human hearts. What does he first do? He laughs and cries and sleeps defenseless, as a baby, though he is God incarnate. And he does this so that we may fall in love with him, so that we may learn to take him in our arms.

We realize once again that this is what Christianity is all about. If a Christian does not love with deeds, he has failed as a Christian, besides failing as a person. You cannot think of others as if they were digits, or rungs on a ladder on which you can rise, or a multitude to be harangued or humiliated, praised or despised, according to circumstances. Be mindful of what others are — and first of all those who are at your side: children of God, with all the dignity that marvelous title entails.

We have to behave as God’s children toward all God’s sons and daughters. Our love has to be a dedicated love, practiced every day and made up of a thousand little details of understanding, hidden sacrifice and unnoticed self‑giving. This is the “aroma of Christ” that made those who lived among our first brothers in the faith exclaim: See how they love one another! (Christ is passing by, 36)

“Practice charity without setting any limits”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/11/28 at 12:00 AM
Love and practice charity without setting any limits or discriminating between people, for it is the virtue which marks us out as disciples of the Master. Nevertheless, this charity cannot lead you to dampen your faith — for it would then cease to be a virtue. Nor should it blur the clear outlines that define the faith, nor soften it to the point of changing it, as some people try to do, into something amorphous and lacking the strength and power of God. (The Forge, 456)

It was the Lord who took the initiative by coming out to meet us. He gave us this example so that we might join him in serving others, generously placing our hearts on the ground, as I am fond of saying, so that others may tread softly and find their struggle more pleasant. This is how we should behave because we have been made children of the same Father, that Father who did not hesitate to give us his dearly beloved Son.

Charity is not something we ourselves build up. It invades us along with God’s grace, ‘because he has loved us first’. We would do well to fill, to saturate ourselves with this most beautiful truth: ‘If we are able to love God, it is because we have been loved by God.’ You and I are able to lavish affection upon those around us, because we have been born to the Faith, through the Father’s love for us. Ask God boldly for this treasure, for the supernatural virtue of charity, so that you may practice it even in the smallest details.

Too often we Christians have not known how to correspond to this gift. At times we have debased it, as if it could be confined to a soulless and cold almsgiving; or we have reduced it to more or less stereotyped good works. This distortion of charity was well expressed once by a sick woman when she commented with sad resignation, ‘Yes, they treat me with “charity” here, but my mother used to look after me with affection.’ A love that springs from the Heart of Christ could never countenance such distinctions. (Friends of God, 228-229)

St. Thomas Aquinas

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/11/14 at 12:00 AM

• Amongst the religious art in the Louvre Museum in Paris is a beautiful painting of the angelic doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.  The masterpiece, which was painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1471, is entitled: “The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas,” and it shows St. Thomas seated with Aristotle and Plato to his right and left. At the saint’s feet is the defeated Muslim philosopher Averoës, who led many Christians into heresy with his interpretations of Aristotle.

• Above St. Thomas is our Lord, surrounded by St. Paul, Moses, and the four Evangelists, with the inscription: “Bene scipsisti deme Thomma”: “You have written well of me, Thomas.”

• I mention this painting because of St. Thomas’ connection with our second reading today.

• In our second reading today we hear St. Paul’s famous treatise on the importance of love in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians. This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, and it’s a reading that is often used very fittingly at weddings.

• In this passage St. Paul tells us of the absolute necessity of living a life of love. In fact, St.Paul makes the point that it doesn’t matter how many talents or other virtues we have; if we fail to love, then nothing else matters.

• “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophesy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

• “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

• St. Paul then goes on to tell us the characteristics of true love or charity, namely that it is patient, kind, not jealous or pompous, not inflated or rude, and does not seek its own interests. True love is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury.

• On the contrary, St. Paul tells us that Christian charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. It never fails.

• St. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively and well about the virtue of charity. And he teaches us that as we go about living our lives, we must always seek to grow in this most important virtue of charity, for growth in this virtue helps to perfect all the other virtues within us.

• St. Thomas referred to charity as the “form” of the virtues, meaning that as we grow in charity, all of the other virtues are perfected within us.

• But perhaps the most important element of Christian love or charity that we must not overlook, and that St. Paul states in this second reading, is that true love does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rather rejoices with the truth.

• And this is something with which St. Thomas Aquinas whole-heartedly agreed: love and truth can never be separated but must necessarily go hand-in-hand.

• In fact, in Gozzoli’s painting of St. Thomas there is a sunburst over the saint’s heart, a Christian symbol of wisdom that highlights this most important connection between love and truth.

• Moreover, this absolutely essential connection between charity and truth is something that our Holy Father wrote about in his third encyclical: Caritas in Veritate.

• Pope Benedict explains in this encyclical that charity, grounded in truth, is “the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.”

• The Holy Father goes on to say that: “A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance” (§ 1-4).

• The point here is that while we all probably understand the necessity of and see the goodness in living a life of love, we must remember that love is not truly love if it is not grounded in or does not reflect truth. For love to be love, it must conform to the objective reality of truth.

• As Catholics we know that truth is not some abstract idea that we can shape and bend to our own desires and wants. Truth is not something that we create of our own. Truth is not a subjective reality capable of changing from one person to the next.

• As Catholics we know that truth is that which conforms to reality. And Truth is a Person: Jesus Christ.

• Therefore when we say that love and truth must necessarily go hand-in-hand, we are saying that our love for others, if it be true, must needs be grounded in Jesus Christ and His teachings, which have been revealed to us through the one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

• Thus, any action that does not conform to the teachings of Church cannot be properly called love or charity. So for example, an unmarried couple who wishes to show their love for one another through the conjugal act is not acting with true love or charity at all.

• While they may indeed have “loving” feelings for one another, engaging in a conjugal act can never be an act of love for an unmarried couple because it is gravely sinful. Instead, the unmarried couple shows true love and charity for one another by chastely restraining from such actions until they are married.

• As another example, a parent who chooses out of a loving sentiment not to discipline or correct his child when the child misbehaves is not really loving the child at all, for a child will not learn to behave well unless he is corrected for misbehaving.

• Sometimes true love requires doing or saying the hard thing. We see evidenced by our Lord in today’s Gospel when He rebukes the people of Nazareth for their lack of faith.

• The point is that true love, true Christian charity is not a sentimental feeling but an act of the reason and the will that reflects a conformity to truth. Thus, it often requires sacrifice, courage, and a willingness to suffer for the sake of the one who is loved.

• As St. Paul says: true Christian love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” It never fails.  Hear this.

• In writing a treatise on the Gospel of St. John, St. Augustine famously penned the short precept: “Love, and do what you will.”

• In writing this St. Augustine’s was stating that every action of our lives, no matter how large or small, should be grounded in the virtue of charity. Everything that we do should spring from love.

• And this is because if all that we say and do is rooted in true charity, then nothing but good can come from it. True charity always leads us in the right path. It always leads us according to God’s most holy will.

• In essence, if we live a life of love, if all our thoughts, words, and actions are imbued with true charity, then we will have nothing to fear in the afterlife for we will be people of surpassing virtue and holiness.

• My dear friends in Christ, our Lord has graciously given all of us the gifts of faith, hope, and love at our baptisms. But as St. Paul tells us today, the greatest of these is love.

• Let us seek to make true Christian charity, which is grounded in truth, the guiding principle of our lives. And let us trust that in so doing, we will reflect well the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

St. Francis of Assisi

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/09/26 at 12:00 AM

This coming week on October 4th, Holy Mother Church will celebrate the feast day of one of her greatest and most beloved sons: St. Francis of Assisi.

Born in 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant, St. Francis lived a rather high-spirited life as a young man, but he soon became enamored with serving the poor…so much so that he desired to live a life of poverty himself.

The saint’s decision to live among and serve the poor provoked his father to rage, who threatened him and even beat him.

Eventually, Francis publicly renounced his father’s patrimony before the bishop, and in an act of extreme humility he gave back to his father even the clothes he was wearing, stripping himself naked in the church.

By this act of stripping himself of clothing, St. Francis not only gave up his inheritance, but he symbolically stripped himself of all worldly attachments and proved himself a worthy spouse of “Lady Poverty”, the mistress he sought so earnestly.

Clothed for the rest of his life only in the rough habit that became the trademark of the religious order he founded, St. Francis grew steadily in Christian perfection, and is said to be the saint most like Christ.

Although not a priest, but simply a deacon, St. Francis was known for his preaching, even traveling to Egypt to preach to the sultan there. But all the same, it is St. Francis who is believed to have said: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

The point of the quote is that anyone who seeks to promote the Good News of the Gospel must not only speak of it, but must also embody the Gospel by the way he lives his life.

In other words, if we wish to proclaim the Gospel effectively and with integrity, we must live according to its precepts!

In our first reading from the Book of Numbers, we hear the story of our Lord bestowing upon 70 chosen men the same spirit that was on Moses so that they might prophesy.

However, two of them, Eldad and Medad, weren’t gathered with the others when the spirit came upon them, but nonetheless the spirit came upon them where they were so that they, too, prophesied.

Joshua, the young aid of Moses, objects to their prophesying away from the others and wants Moses to stop them. But Moses responds wisely: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow His spirit on them all!”

While not all Christians are called to preach publicly, it is our baptismal call as Christ’s followers to be prophets in our world today, speaking our Lord’s truth and doing our best to live it as well so that others might come to know our Lord.

This is the beauty of St. Francis and all the saints: they were prophets by the way they lived their lives, and we should be too! Simply by living a life of Christian virtue, especially by exercising the virtue of charity, souls are drawn to Christ and saved!

Sadly, people who live their faith openly are becoming more and more of a novelty in our society today. But the upside to this situation is that the overall loss of Christian values in our society makes our prophetic witness stand out all the more.

Although our country may be filled with churches, we can see from the assaults on religious freedom being waged by the Obama Administration and by the ever- increasing legalization and expansion of immoral acts such as abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex unions that the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation.

Even many of our brothers and sisters in the various Protestant denominations are embracing and promoting these moral evils as not only acceptable but even “good” under the misguided notion that “tolerance” and “inclusivity” are forms of charity.

Taking a rather elitist approach to Sacred Scripture and disregarding the clear denunciations of these sins by the various writers of Scripture as being unenlightened or unsophisticated, they bend and change the meaning of God’s Holy Word to agree with their social views.

This is not only academically disingenuous and morally dishonest, but it’s dangerous to one’s salvation. For we can never embrace sin as a good and hope to go to Heaven.

Christian charity requires that we be welcoming to sinners. We are called to be radically charitable to everyone, no matter what their backgrounds are or what sins they’ve committed.

Jesus Himself provides a model for us in the way he dealt with the woman caught in adultery. He did not condemn her, but rather He said: “Go and sin no more” (cf. John 8:11).

So while Christian charity calls us to welcome the sinner, true Christian charity does not tolerate sin. To the contrary, true Christian charity recognizes sinful behavior for what it is and lovingly seeks to correct it. That’s the whole point of our Gospel today.

Our blessed Lord tells us today in the Gospel that we must make a choice in our lives: either we are for Him or we are against Him. There is no middle ground between our Lord and the devil. So we must do all we can to rid ourselves of sin so that we can belong fully to God.
Because our Lord wants to show how serious this matter is, He makes some rather drastic suggestions with regard to ridding oneself of sin: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. . . If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. . . If you eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.”

Of course our Lord is speaking figuratively here. He doesn’t really expect us to maim ourselves. His point is that we should do everything in our power to avoid anything that leads us into sin.

Please understand, brothers and sisters, that when it comes to sin, the stakes are high. So many people today live their lives, sinning with reckless abandon, with very little reflection on the consequences of their sins.

And yet there are always consequences to our sins, whether we recognize them or not. Sin not only offends God, but it alienates us from God and makes it harder for us to love and live a holy life. But we must also recognize that our sins affect other people too.

As Christians we are one body in Christ, a fact that we celebrate and that is most perfectly realized when we receive Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we are joined not only with Jesus, but also with one another as well in a mystical union of love!

This is why only practicing Catholics in a state of grace and in good standing with the
Church are permitted to receive Holy Communion. Our sins separate us from God and one another, and the Church’s laws regarding Holy Communion illustrate this for us.

But not only does sin separate us from God and others, it also makes us less capable of helping others find their way to Jesus and His saving mercy. Sin robs us of the joy and the love necessary to win others over to Christ and His Church.

My brothers and sisters, do you wish to lead others to Christ so that they might be saved? Do you wish to be saved yourself? Then ask yourself: what is it that keeps me from being fully united with our Lord? What are my sins? And then cut off all that is sinful within yourself.

While we may never be completely free from every sin, if we are truly sorry for our sins, our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness will relieve us of our sins and heal our defects so that we may be not only His faithful followers, but His effective prophets as well!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
30 September 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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“You will never love enough”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/06/23 at 12:00 AM
No matter how much you may love, you will never love enough. The human heart is endowed with an enormous coefficient of expansion. When it loves, it opens out in a crescendo of affection that overcomes all barriers. If you love Our Lord, there will not be a single creature that does not find a place in your heart. (Way of the Cross, 8th Station, 5)

Let us now consider the Master and his disciples gathered together in the intimacy of the Upper Room. The time of his Passion is drawing close and he is surrounded by those he loves. The fire in the Heart of Christ bursts into flame in a way no words can express and he confides in them, ‘I give you a new commandment that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Lord, why do you call it a new commandment? As we have just heard, it was already laid down in the Old Testament that we should love our neighbour. You will remember also that, when Jesus had scarcely begun his public life, he broadened the scope of this law with divine generosity: ‘You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute and slander you.’

But, Lord, please allow us to insist. Why do you still call this precept new? That night, just a few hours before offering yourself in sacrifice on the Cross, during your intimate conversation with the men who — in spite of being weak and wretched, like ourselves — accompanied you to Jerusalem, you revealed to us the standard for our charity, one we could never have suspected: ‘as I have loved you’. How well the apostles must have understood you, having witnessed for themselves your unbounded love.

If we profess the same faith and are really eager to follow in the clear footprints left by Christ when he walked on this earth, we cannot be content merely with avoiding doing unto others the evil that we would not have them do unto us. That is a lot, but it is still very little when we consider that our love is to be measured in terms of Jesus’ own conduct. Besides, he does not give us this standard as a distant target, as a crowning point of a whole lifetime of struggle. It is — it ought to be, I repeat so that you may turn it into specific resolutions — the starting point, for Our Lord presents it as a sign of Christianity: ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples.’ (Friends of God, 222-223)

“People are not born holy. Holiness is forged.”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/03/28 at 12:00 AM
Everything in which we poor men have a part–even holiness–is a fabric of small trifles which, depending upon one’s intention, can form a magnificent tapestry of heroism or of degradation, of virtues or of sins. The epic legends always relate extraordinary adventures, but never fail to mix them with homely details about the hero.–May you always attach great importance to the little things. This is the way! (The Way, 826)

The main thing we are asked to do, which is so much in keeping with our nature, is to love: ‘charity is the bond of perfection’ [1]; a charity that is to be practised exactly as Our Lord himself commands: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind’ [2], holding back nothing for ourselves. This is what sanctity is all about.

Certainly our goal is both lofty and difficult to attain. But please do not forget that people are not born holy. Holiness is forged through a constant interplay of God’s grace and the correspondence of man. As one of the early Christian writers says, referring to union with God, ‘Everything that grows begins small. It is by constant and progressive feeding that it gradually grows big.’ So I say to you, if you want to become a thorough‑going Christian — and I know you are willing, even though you often find it difficult to conquer yourself or to keep climbing upwards with this poor body of ours — then you will have to be very attentive to the minutest of details, for the holiness that Our Lord demands of you is to be achieved by carrying out with love of God your work and your daily duties, and these will almost always consist of small realities. (Friends of God, 6-7)

[1] Col 3:14
[2] Matt 22:37

“We will serve everyone”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/02/13 at 12:00 AM
When a person really lives charity, there is no time left for self seeking. There is no room left for pride. We will not find occasion for anything but service! (The Forge, 683)

Try to remember what a donkey is like — now that so few of them are left. Not an old, stubborn, vicious one that would give you a kick when you least expected, but a young one with his ears up like antennae. He lives on a meagre diet, is hardworking and has a quick, cheerful trot. There are hundreds of animals more beautiful, more deft and strong. But it was a donkey Christ chose when he presented himself to the people as king in response to their acclamation. For Jesus has no time for calculations, for astuteness, for the cruelty of cold hearts, for attractive but empty beauty. What he likes is the cheerfulness of a young heart, a simple step, a natural voice, clean eyes, attention to his affectionate word of advice. That is how he reigns in the soul.

If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my king and, through him, all those who have been redeemed by his blood. (Christ is passing by, 181-182)