Choose a topic from Part 2B:

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.

"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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