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23. The Virtue of Charity

1. Charity as a supernatural virtue is the friendship of man and God. On God's part, it is love, benevolence, and communication of benefits and graces; on man's part charity involves devotion and service to God. It was in charity that our Lord said to his apostles (John 15:15): "I will not now call you servants . . . but friends."

2. Charity is in a person as a determinate, supernatural, habitual power, added to the natural power of the soul, which inclines the will to act with ease and delight in the exercise of loving friendship with God.

3. St. Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl., xi): "Charity is a virtue which, when our affections are perfectly ordered, unites us to God; for it is by charity that we love him."

4. Charity is not a general virtue, nor an overlapping of virtues; it is a special virtue in its own nature; it is on a level with the other theological virtues (faith and hope), and is distinct from these virtues.

5. And charity is one virtue; it is not divided into different species or essential kinds.

6. Charity is the most excellent of all virtues. Faith knows truth about God; hope aspires to good in God; charity attains God himself simply, and not as having something to gain from him.

7. All true virtue directs a man to God, his ultimate good, his last end. Hence, charity, which embraces the ultimate good simply, must be in the soul that has any true and living virtue. No true supernatural virtue is possible without charity.

8. Charity therefore directs the acts of all the other virtues, making these serve to get man onward to his last end. And thus charity gives to these virtues their determinate being as effective instruments. Thus charity is said to be the"form" of the other virtues.

"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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