Choose a topic from Part 2B:

24. The Subject of Charity

1. Charity as a supernatural virtue resides in man's soul; specifically, it resides in the appetitive part of man's soul, that is, in man's will. For the object towards which the will tends is the good, and charity is the virtue which, above all others, tends to and actually embraces the ultimate good of man. Charity lays hold on God himself.

2. This charity is not in us by our nature; it is supernatural. Hence, we cannot acquire charity by our natural powers. Charity is in us by divine infusion, by in-pouring. St. Paul (Rom. 5:5) says: "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us."

3. Our natural gifts and capacities have no part in determining the quantity, so to speak, of charity in us. For (John3:8), "the Spirit breatheth where he will"; and (I Cor.12:11), "all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to everyone according as he will." Thus the measure of charity is not our capacity, but the will of God.

4. Charity can increase in us while we are in this life, on the way to God; that is, while we are wayfarers. If charity did not increase, we could make no progress along the way to God.

5. Charity increases not by having new elements added to it, but by growing more intense.

6. Not every act of charity increases the virtue of charity. It is possible that an act of charity, done imperfectly, should mean no increase at all in the person who performs the act. But each act of charity, rightly performed, leads to another, and ultimately to a favor of action which increases charity.

7. Charity may go on increasing and increasing; it is not possible to fix limits to this increase while earthly life endures.

8. A perfection of charity (which in no way marks a stay or limit to its increase) is found in those who give their whole hearts habitually to God, not thinking or desiring anything contrary to his love.

9. We may distinguish three steps or degrees in charity; it has its beginning, its progress, and its (non limiting) perfection.

10. Charity cannot decrease. It is altogether lost by mortal sin, but it cannot be merely lessened in the soul. Human friendship may grow weak and be diminished through the negligence of friends and their forgetfulness. But charity is divine friendship; it depends on God, the infinitely perfect friend, who never grows negligent or forgetful; hence, charity does not decrease. However, to neglect acts of charity and to commit venial sins, may be to dispose ourselves to lose charity entirely through mortal sin; only in this extrinsic way may charity be said to suffer decrease.

11. Once we have charity, we have with it no guarantee that, during this life, we shall not lose it. The charity of the blessed in heaven (comprehensors) cannot be lost; the charity of men on earth (wayfarers ) can be lost.

12. Charity is lost by mortal sin. For whoever has charity is deserving of eternal life; a man who commits mortal sin is deserving of eternal death, that is, of everlasting punishment. It is therefore impossible for a person to have charity and, at the same time, to be in the state of mortal sin. One mortal sin drives out charity.

"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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