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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.

"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Does our conduct correspond with our Faith?"
The Cure D'Ars

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"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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