Saturday, July 21, 2012

Charity! Charity! Charity!

 In a Christmas Letter written in 1934, Don Orione reminds us the ideal of the Little Work of Divine Provvidence: Charity! Charity! Charity!

Charity! Charity! Charity! There is nothing dearer to Jesus Christ, nothing more precious than fraternal charity; so that we must take every care, my dear sons, to preserve it and increase it in ourselves and in our Congregation, and so be in Christ, one for all and all for one, since it is only that spirit which builds, cements and unifies in Christ. To such an extent that it would be better to abandon any question, even one posed out of love of the truth or zeal for God’s glory, if it might ever, even for a moment, embitter our hearts and weaken the spirit of charity.

Charity, says St. Paul, is patient and mild, sweet and gentle, strong and constant; it is enlightened and prudent, it is humble, fervent, untiring and denies itself.  It does all things to all men: it is not self-seeking, it is serene, it is not ambitious, it is not envious, it rejoices in the good of others, whether likeable or distasteful people. It is tolerant of the defects of others and, as far as possible, covers them with a cloak of love. It interprets words and actions in the most favorable way: it excludes every bit of egoism and finds its happiness in doing every good. The charity of Christ is universal and embraces Heaven and earth.  It is brave to the point of audacity, but most delicate, and all powerful and triumphant over all things.
Charity is simple and transparent; it is never troubled; it is not puffed up; it never seeks its own profit; it never becomes embittered; it remains beneath the feet of all and goes out to the hearts of all and enters all hearts.  Charity is not biased, it does not have a spirit of dispute, nor does it know ifs and buts; it has no spirit of contradiction, nor censure, nor criticism, nor complaining; charity does not know any of these things. Charity has always a serene face, just as its spirit is serene; it is quiet and never raises its voice when it speaks.  Charity is never lazy, but prompt and ever active, and works silently.
It has a unique prerogative which is all its own: it is always happy and content with everything, even the most humiliating beatings, insults and calumnies; in the knotty stick, which St. Francis spoke about, in contempt and the vilest humiliations, charity finds its perfect joy.
Charity is not dismayed by difficulties, since it trusts in God: God is its portion and the cup of its inheritance: with trust in the Lord, with patience and with time it knows how to hope and wait for the moments and the hours of God, for the success of every good enterprise.
Charity prefers the simplicity of the dove to the distrust of the serpent, and it does not want to know of the things of the serpent.
Charity is open to every good, from wherever it comes; it is able and wishes humbly to learn from all, always confident in the Lord and in the large or small amount of goodness that it can find in even the most alienated hearts.
Its zeal does not burn or break and is discreet, in the light of knowledge, because it knows human limitations and weakness and can understand them, and knows it is extremely difficult to find people without faults.
Charity does nothing improper: nor does it ever become agitated nor take notice of wrongs done to it; it conquers evil with good. It does not delight in injustice but is happy whenever it can rejoice in the truth. It excuses all things, hopes in all things, bears all things. It prays, endures, is silent and adores: it does not weaken!
There is nothing arbitrary nor hard about charity; it finds its happiness in spreading and reflecting around itself goodness, moderation and gentleness: it desires only one thing: to sacrifice its very self to bring about the happiness and salvation of others, for the glory of God.

All human knowledge is foolish if it is not flavored by charity with the love of God and neighbor: without this, knowledge swells heads. First charity then knowledge, my sons, because the latter will be destroyed, but the former is never corrupted and is eternal. It is charity, my dear sons, and only charity which will save the world! Blessed are those who will receive the grace to become victims of charity!
My brothers and sons, let us love God to the point of making ourselves victims, holocausts of charity, and let us love each other greatly in the Lord; there is nothing more pleasing to the Lord, who said: ‘I have loved you...: love one another’. (John 15: 9-10).
The great secret of sanctity is to have a great love for the Lord and for our brothers in the Lord. The Saints are the chalices of the love of God and of their brothers.  Love Jesus, love one another in Jesus: work to make people love Jesus and His Holy Vicar, the Pope; pray, work, suffer, be silent, love, live and die for the love of Jesus, the Pope and souls!
My dear friends, the Little Work of Divine Providence must be like a family in Jesus Christ. Bound by charity and united by undivided hearts in this moral body which is our Congregation, what great help we will get from the hand of God, and how happy, joyful and strong we will feel!
The Congregation will prosper and be blessed by the merits of all who help maintain unity and peace, because our strength, my dear friends, is in unity whose bond is Christ. Then with what joy and fullness of heart will we sing “how good and joyful it is when brothers live in unity”.
Charity is wholly directed to the good of the Church and of souls, and is the motto of Christ’s disciples and of the Church.  St. Paul wrote: ‘Faith, Hope and Charity: the greatest of these three is Charity’. Let us, therefore, try fervently to acquire charity.

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