Practical proofs of charity

December 27, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 425
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Among the works comprised in charity to our neighbor the following are the most important: advice, counsel, succor, forbearance, pardon, edification.

These are so strongly linked with charity that the practice of them indicates the progress we have made in the practice of charity.

There are Christians who pretend to love their neighbor, but their charity goes no farther than words.

Others are willing to give advice, but no more substantial proof of their charity.

Others will perform both these duties, but will not refrain from resenting an injury, or will refuse to bear with the infirmities of their neighbor, forgetting that the Apostle tells us: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.” [Gal. vi. 2.]

Others, again, while not resenting an injury, continue to harbor it in their hearts and will not freely pardon it.

Finally, many fulfil all these obligations, yet in their words or conduct they fail to give their neighbor that edification which is the most important duty of charity.

Let us diligently examine our hearts and our actions, and learn how far we fulfil the precepts of this virtue.

It may be said that he who simply loves his neighbor possesses the first degree of charity; he who gives him good counsel possesses the second; he who assists him in poverty or distress possesses the third; he who patiently bears an injury possesses the fourth; he who freely pardons it, the fifth; and he who in addition to all these fulfils the duty of edification to his neighbor has attained the highest degree of charity.

The works of which we have just been treating are what are called positive acts of charity, which teach us what we ought to do for our neighbor.

Besides these there are others, called negative duties, which indicate what we must avoid in our intercourse with our neighbor.

Such are judging rashly, speaking evil, using abusive or insulting language, injuring his honor or reputation, and giving scandal by words or evil counsel. If you would fulfil the law of charity, avoid all these.

To reduce to practice what we have said let your love for your neighbor be like that of a mother for her child.

See with what devotion a good mother cares for her child;

  • how prudently she counsels him in danger;

  • how faithfully she assists him in his necessities;

  • how ingenious she is in regard to his faults, sometimes patiently bearing them, at other times justly punishing them, or again prudently ignoring them.

  • How earnestly she rejoices in his prosperity;

  • how deeply she grieves at his misfortune as if it were her own!

  • How zealous she is for his honor and advancement;

  • how fervently she prays for him;

  • how cheerfully she denies herself to give to him;

  • how utterly she forgets herself in her care of him!

Your charity would be perfect did it resemble this. Though you may not attain this degree, you must nevertheless aspire to it, for the higher you aim the more noble will be your conduct.

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