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Produced by Michael Gray, Diocese of San Jose




FRATERNAL CHARITY



FRATERNAL CHARITY

BY

REV. FATHER VALUY, S.J.



AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION



NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO
BENZIGER BROTHERS
PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
1908



Nihil Obstat.
F. THOMAS BERGH, O.S.B.,
_Censor Deputatus._


Imprimatur.
GULIELMUS,
_Episcopus Arindelensis,_
_Vicarius Generalis._


WESTMONASTERII,
_Die 7 Feb., 1908._



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

THE name of Father Valuy, S.J., is already favourably known to
English readers by several translations of his works, which have a
large circulation.

The following little treatise is taken from one of his works on
the Religious Life, and is translated with the kind permission of
the publisher, M. Emmanuel Vitte, of Lyons. The subject is so
important a factor in community life that I feel confident it will
supply a want hitherto felt by many.

Though specially written for religious, it cannot fail to prove
beneficial to seculars in every sphere of life, as love, the
sunshine of existence, is wanted everywhere.




CONTENTS

I. CHARITY THE PECULIAR VIRTUE OF CHRIST
II. FIRST FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH
III. SECOND FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH
IV. THE FAMILY SPIRIT
V. EGOTISM, OR SELF-SEEKING
VI. FIRST CHARACTERISTIC OF FRATERNAL CHARITY
VII. SECOND CHARACTERISTIC
VIII. THIRD CHARACTERISTIC
IX. FOURTH CHARACTERISTIC
X. FIFTH CHARACTERISTIC
XI. SIXTH CHARACTERISTIC
XII. SEVENTH CHARACTERISTIC
XIII. EIGHTH CHARACTERISTIC
XIV. NINTH CHARACTERISTIC
XV. TENTH CHARACTERISTIC
XVI. ELEVENTH CHARACTERISTIC
XVII. TWELFTH CHARACTERISTIC
XVIII. EXTENT AND DELICACY OF GOD'S CHARITY FOR MEN
XIX. EXTENT AND DELICACY OF THE CHARITY OF JESUS CHRIST DURING
HIS MORTAL LIFE
XX. FIRST PRESERVATIVE
XXI. SECOND PRESERVATIVE
XXII. THIRD PRESERVATIVE
XXIII. FOURTH PRESERVATIVE
XXIV. FIFTH PRESERVATIVE
XXV. SIXTH PRESERVATIVE
XXVI. SEVENTH PRESERVATIVE
XXVII. EIGHTH PRESERVATIVE
XXVIII. NINTH PRESERVATIVE
XXIX. TENTH PRESERVATIVE
XXX. ELEVENTH PRESERVATIVE
XXXI. MEANS TO SUPPORT THE EVIL THOUGHTS AND TONGUES OF OTHERS
XXXII. SECOND MEANS TO BEAR WITH OTHERS
XXXIII. CONCLUSION
APPENDIX: THE PRACTICE OF FRATERNAL CHARITY



FRATERNAL CHARITY

I

CHARITY THE PECULIAR VIRTUE OF CHRIST

OUR Divine Saviour shows both by precept and example that His
favourite virtue, His own and, in a certain sense, characteristic
virtue, was charity. Whether He treated with His ignorant and rude
Apostles, with the sick and poor, or with His enemies and sinners,
He is always benign, condescending, merciful, affable, patient; in
a word, His charity appeared in all its most amiable forms. Oh,
how well these titles suit Him! - a King full of clemency, a Lamb
full of mildness. How justly could He say, "Learn of Me, that I am
meek and humble of heart"! His yoke was sweet, His burden light,
His conversation without sadness or bitterness. He lightened the
burdens of those heavily laden; He consoled those in sorrow; He
quenched not the dying spark nor broke the bruised reed.

He calls us His friends, His brothers, His little flock; and as
the greatest sign of friendship is to die for those we love, He
gave to each of us the right to say with St. Paul: "He loved me,
and delivered Himself up for me." Let us, then, say: "My good
Master, I love Thee, and deliver myself up for Thee."

Religious, called to reproduce the three great virtues of Jesus
Christ - poverty, chastity, and obedience - have still another to
practise not less noble or distinctive - viz., fraternal charity.
By this virtue they are not called to rise above earthly or
sensual pleasures, nor above their judgment and self-will, but
above egotism and self-love, which shoot their roots deepest in
the soul. They must consider attentively the fundamental truths on
which charity is based and its effects, as also the principal
obstacles to its attainment, and the means to overcome them.



II

FIRST FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH

_We are all members of the great Christian family_

CHARITY towards our neighbour is charity towards God in our
neighbour, because, faith assuring us that God is our Father,
Jesus Christ our Head, the Holy Ghost our sanctifier, it follows
that to love our neighbour - inasmuch as he is the well-beloved
child of God, the member of Jesus Christ, and the sanctuary of the
Holy Ghost - is to love in a special manner our heavenly Father,
His only-begotten Son, together with the Holy Spirit. And because
it is scarcely possible for religious to behold their brethren in
this light without wishing them what the Most Holy Trinity so
lovingly desires to bestow on them, acts of fraternal charity
include - almost necessarily at least - implicit acts of faith and
hope; and the exercise of the noblest of the theological virtues
thus often becomes an exercise of the other two.

Thus it is that charity poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
uniting Christians among themselves and with the adorable Trinity
whose images they are, is the vivid and perfect imitation of the
love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father - a
substantial love which is no other than the Holy Ghost, and makes
us all one in God by grace, as the Father and Son are only one God
with the Holy Ghost by nature, according to the words of our Lord:
"That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee:
that they also may be one in Us."

Such is the chain that unites and binds us - a chain of gold a
thousand times stronger than those of flesh and blood, interest or
friendship, because these permit the defects of body and the vices
of the soul to be seen, whilst charity covers all, hides all, to
offer exclusively to admiration and love the work of the hands of
God, the price of the blood of Jesus Christ and the masterpiece of
the Holy Spirit.



III

SECOND FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH

_We are members of the same religious family_

TO love our brethren as ourselves in relation to God, it suffices
without doubt to have with them the same faith, the same
Sacraments, the same head, the same life, the same immortal hopes,
etc. But, besides these, there exist other considerations which
lead friendship and fraternity to a higher degree among the
members of the same religious Order. All in the novitiate have
been cast in the same mould, or, rather, have imbibed the milk of
knowledge and piety from the breasts of the same mother. All
follow the same rules; all tend to the same end by the same means;
all from morning to night, and during their whole lives, perform
the same exercises, live under the same roof, work, sanctify
themselves, suffer and rejoice together. Like fellow-citizens,
they have the same interests; like soldiers, the same combats;
like children of a family, the same ancestors and heirlooms; and,
like friends, a communication of ideas and interchange of
sentiments.

If our Lord said to Christians in general, "This is My
commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. By
this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have
love for one another" (John xiii.), can He not say to the members
of the same religious Order: "This is My own and special
recommendation: Before all and above all preserve amongst you a
mutual charity. Have but one soul in several different bodies. You
will be recognized as religious and brethren, not by the same
habit, vows, and virtues, nor by the particular work entrusted to
you by the Church, but by the love you have one for the other. Ah!
who will love you if you do not love one another? Love one another
fraternally, because as human beings you have only one heavenly
Father. Love one another holily, because as Christians you have
only one Head. Love one another tenderly, because as religious you
have only one mother - your Order"?

It is impossible for religious to love their brethren with a true,
sincere, pure, and constant love if they do not look at them in
this light.



IV

THE FAMILY SPIRIT

BASED on the foregoing principles, fraternal charity begets the
family spirit - that spirit which forgets itself in thinking only
of the common good; which makes particular give way to general
interests; which forces oneself to live with all without
exception, to live as all without singularity, and to live for all
without self-seeking; that spirit which, binding like a Divine
cement all parts of the mysterious edifice of religion, uniting
all hearts in one and all wills in one, permits the community to
proceed firmly and securely, and its members to work out
efficaciously and peacefully their personal sanctification and
perfection; in fine, that spirit which gives to all religious not
only an inexpressible family happiness, but a delicious foretaste
of heaven, which renders them invincible to their enemies, and
causes to be said of them with admiration: "See how they love one
another!"

Writing on these words of the Psalmist, "Behold how good and
pleasant it is for brethren to live together in union," St.
Augustine cries out: "Behold the words which make monasteries
spring up! Sweet, delightful, and delicious words which fill the
soul and ear with jubilation."

Yes, certainly the happiness of community life is great and its
advantages inappreciable; but without the family spirit there is
no community, as there would be no beauty in the human body
without harmony in its members. Oh, never forget this comparison,
you who wish to live happy in religion, and who wish to make
others happy.

A community is a body. Now, as the members of a body, each in its
proper place and functions, live in perfect harmony, mutually
comfort, defend, and love each other, without being jealous or
vengeful, and have only in view the well-being of that body of
which they are parts, so in the community of which you are members
and in the employment assigned to you. Remember you are parts of a
whole, and that it is necessary to refer to this whole your time,
labour, and strength; to have the same thoughts, sentiments,
designs, and language, without which there would no longer exist
either body, members, parts, or whole. If you wish, then, to
obtain and practise the family spirit, study what passes within
you. Your actions bespeak your sentiments.



V

EGOTISM, OR SELF-SEEKING

EGOTISM, taking for its motto "Every one for himself," is very
much opposed to fraternal charity and the family spirit. It never
hesitates, when occasion offers, to sacrifice the common good to
its own. It isolates the individuals, makes them concentrated in
self, places them in the community, but not of it, makes them
strangers amongst their brethren, and tends to justify the words
of an impious writer, who calls monasteries "reunions of persons
who know not each other, who live without love, and die without
being regretted."

Egotism breeds distrust, jealousy, parties, aversions. It destroys
abnegation, humility, patience, and all other virtues. It
introduces a universal disgust and discontent, makes religious
lose their first fervour, presents an image of hell where one
expected to find a heaven on earth, saps the very foundation of
community life, and leads sooner or later to inevitable ruin.

As the family spirit causes the growth and prosperity of an order,
however feeble its beginning, so, on the other hand, egotism dries
the sap and renders it powerless, no matter what other advantages
it may enjoy. If the one, by uniting hearts, is a principle of
strength and duration, the other, by dividing, is a principle of
dissolution and decay. Sallust says that "the weakest things
become powerful by concord, and the greatest perish through
discord." Whilst the descendants of Noah spoke the same language
the building of the tower of Babel proceeded with rapidity. From
the moment they ceased to understand one another its destruction
commenced, and the monument which was to have immortalized their
name was left in ruin to tell their shame and pride.

On each of the four corners of the monastery religion or charity
personified ought to be placed, bearing on shields in large
characters the following words: (1) "Love one another"; (2) "He
who is not with Me is against Me, and he who gathers not with Me
scatters"; (3) "Every kingdom divided will become desolate"; (4)
"They had all but one heart and one soul."



VI

FIRST CHARACTERISTIC OF FRATERNAL CHARITY

_To esteem our brethren interiorly_

"CHARITY, the sister of humility," says St. Paul, "is not puffed
up." She cannot live with pride, the disease of a soul full of
itself. It willingly prefers others by considering their good
qualities and one's own defects, and shows this exteriorly when
occasion offers by many sincere proofs. It always looks on others
from the most favourable point. Instead of closing the eyes on
fifty virtues to find out one fault, without any other profit than
to satisfy a natural perverseness and to excuse one's own
failings, it closes the eyes on fifty faults to open them on one
virtue, with the double advantage of being edified and of blessing
God, the Author of all good. Since an unfavourable thought, or the
sight of an action apparently reprehensible, tends to cloud the
reputation of a religious, charity hastens before the cloud
thickens to drive it away, saying, "What am I doing? Should I
blacken in my mind the image of God, and seek deformities in the
member of Jesus Christ? Besides, cannot my brethren be eminently
holy and be subject to many faults, which God permits them to fall
into in order to keep them humble, to teach them to help others,
and to exercise their patience?"



VII

SECOND CHARACTERISTIC

_To treat brethren with respect, openness, and cordiality_

EXTERIOR honour being the effect and sign of interior esteem,
charity honours all those whom it esteems superiors, equals, the
young and the old. It carefully observes all propriety, and takes
into consideration the different circumstances of age, employment,
merit, character, birth, and education to make itself all to all.
Convinced that God is not unworthy to have well-bred persons in
His service, and that religious ought not to respect themselves
less than people in the world, it conforms to all the requirements
of politeness as far as religious simplicity will permit; not that
politeness which is feigned and hypocritical, and which is merely
a sham expression of deceitful respect, but that politeness, the
flower of charity, which, manifesting exteriorly the sentiments of
a sincere affection and a true devotion, is accompanied with a
graceful countenance, benign and affable regards, sweetness in
words, foresight, urbanity, and delicacy in business. In fine,
that politeness which is the fruit of self-denial and humility no
less than of charity and friendship; which is the art of
self-restraint and self-conquest, without restraining others;
which is the care of avoiding everything that might displease, and
doing all that can please, in order to make others content with
us and with themselves. In a word, a mixture of discretion and
complaisance, cordiality and respect, together with words and
manners full of mildness and benignity.



VIII

THIRD CHARACTERISTIC

_To work harmoniously with those in the same employment, and not
to cause any inconvenience to them_

WHY should we cling so obstinately to our own way of seeing and
doing? Do not many ways and means serve the same ends provided
they be employed wisely and perseveringly? Some have succeeded by
their methods, and I by mine - a proof that success is reached
through many ways, and that it is not by disputing it is obtained,
nor by giving scandal to those we should edify, nor, perhaps, by
compromising the good work in which we are employed. The four
animals mentioned by Ezekiel joined their wings, were moved by the
same spirit and animated by the same ardour, and so drew the
heavenly chariot with majesty and rapidity, giving us religious an
example of perfect union of efforts and thoughts.

Charity avoids haughty and contemptuous looks, forewarns itself
against fads and manias, and in the midst of most pressing
occupations carefully guards against rudeness and impatience.
Careful of wounding the susceptibility of others, it neither
blames nor despises those who act in an opposite way. Religious
animated by fraternal charity are not ticklish spirits who are
disturbed for nothing at all, and who do not know how to pass
unnoticed a little want of respect, etc.; nor punctilious spirits,
who find pleasure in contradicting and making irritating remarks;
nor self-opinionated spirits, who pose themselves as supreme
judges of talent and virtue as well as infallible dispensers of
praise and blame. Neither are they suspicious characters who are
constantly ruminating in their hearts, and who consider every
little insult as levelled at themselves; nor discontented beings,
who find fault with the places whither obedience sends them and
the persons with whom they live, and who could travel the entire
world without finding a single place or a single person to suit
them.

Charitable religious are not those imperious minds who endeavour
to impose their opinions on all and refuse to accept those of
others, however just they may be, simply because they did not
emanate from themselves, nor are they those ridiculing,
hard-to-be-pleased sort of people who do not spare even grey hairs.
Finally, they are not those great spouters who, instead of
accommodating themselves to circumstances as charity and
politeness require, monopolize the conversation, and thereby shut
up the mouths of others and make them feel weary when they should
be joyful and free.



IX

FOURTH CHARACTERISTIC

_To accommodate oneself to persons of different humour_

THEY who are animated by charity support patiently and in silence,
in sentiments of humility and sweetness, as if they had neither
eyes nor ears, the difficult, odd, and most inconstant humours of
others, although they may find it very difficult at times to do
so.

No matter how regular and perfect we may be, we have always need
of compassion and indulgence for others. To be borne with, we must
bear with others; to be loved, we must love; to be helped, we must
help; to be joyful ourselves, we must make others so. Surrounded
as we are by so many different minds, characters, and interests,
how can we live in peace for a single day if we are not
condescending, accommodating, yielding, self-denying, ready to
renounce even a good project, and to take no notice of those
faults and shortcomings which are beyond our power or duty to
correct?

Charity patiently listens to a bore, answers a useless question,
renders service even when the need is only imaginary, without ever
betraying the least signs of annoyance. It never asks for
exceptions or privileges for fear of exciting jealousy. It does
not multiply nor prolong conversations which in any way annoy
others. It fights antipathy and natural aversions so that they may
never appear, and seeks even the company of those who might be the
object of them. It does not assume the office of reprehending or
warning through a motive of bitter zeal. It seeks to find in
oneself the faults it notices in others, and perhaps greater ones,
and tries to correct them. "If thou canst not make thyself such a
one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another
according to thy liking? We would willingly have others perfect,
and yet we mend not our own defects. We would have others strictly
corrected, but are not fond of being corrected ourselves. The
large liberty of others displeases us, and yet we do not wish to
be denied anything we ask for. We are willing that others be bound
up by laws, and we suffer not ourselves to be restrained by any
means. Thus it is evident how seldom we weigh our neighbour in the
same balance with ourselves" ("Imitation," i. 16).



X

FIFTH CHARACTERISTIC

_To refuse no reasonable service, and to accept or refuse in an
affable manner_

CHARITY is generous; it does everything it can. When even it can
do little, it wishes to be able to do more. It never lets slip an
opportunity of comforting, helping, and taking the most painful
part, after the example of its Divine Model, Who came to serve,
not to be served. One religious, seemingly in pain, seeks comfort;
another desires some book, instrument, etc.; a third bends under a
burden; while a fourth is afflicted. In all these cases charity
comes to the aid by consoling the one, procuring little
gratifications for the other, and helping another. Without
complaining of the increased labour or the carelessness of others,
it finishes the work left undone by them, too happy to diminish
their trouble, while augmenting its own reward. "Does the hunter,"
says St. John Chrysostom, "who finds splendid game blame those who
beat the brushwood before him? Or does the traveller who finds a
purse of gold on the road neglect to pick it up because others who
preceded him took no notice of it?" It would be a strange thing to
find religious uselessly giving themselves to ardent desires of
works of charity abroad, such as nursing in a hospital or carrying
the Gospel into uncivilized lands, and at the same time in their
own house and among their own brethren showing coldness,
indifference, and want of condescension.

There is an art of giving as well as of refusing. Several offend
in giving because they do so with a bad grace; others in refusing
do not offend because they know how to temper their refusal by
sweetness of manner. Charity possesses this art in a high degree,
and, besides, raises a mere worldly art into a virtue and fruit of
the Holy Ghost.



XI

SIXTH CHARACTERISTIC

_To share the joys and griefs of our brethren_

AS the soul in the human body establishes all its members as
sharers equally in joys and griefs, so charity in the religious
community places everything in common content, affliction,
material goods driving out of existence the words mine and thine.
It lavishes kind words and consolations on all who suffer in any
way through ill-humour, sickness, want of success, etc.; it
rejoices when they are successful, honoured, and trusted, or
endowed with gifts of nature or grace, felicitates them on their
good fortune, and thanks God for them. If, on the one hand,
compassion sweetens pains to the sufferer by sharing them, on the
other hand participation in a friend's joys doubles them by making
them personal to ourselves. Would to God that this touching and
edifying charity replaced the low and rampant vice of jealousy!

When David returned after he slew the Philistines, the women came
out of all the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet King
Saul. And the women sang as they played, "Saul slew his thousands
and David his ten thousands." Saul was exceedingly angry, and this
word was displeasing in his eyes, and he said: "They have given
David ten thousand, and to me they have given but a thousand. . .
. And Saul did not look on David with a good eye from that day
forward. . . . And Saul held a spear in his hand and threw it,
thinking to nail David to the wall" (1 Kings). Thus it is that the
jealous complain of their brethren who are more successful,
learned, or praised; thus it is that they lance darts of calumny,
denunciation, and revenge.



XII

SEVENTH CHARACTERISTIC

_Not to be irritated when others wrong us_

WE must pardon and do good for evil, as God has pardoned us and
rendered good for evil in Jesus Christ. It is vain to trample the
violet, as it never resists, and he who crushes it only becomes
aware of the fact by the sweetness of its perfume. This is the
image of charity. It always strives to throw its mantle over the
evil doings of others, persuading itself that they were the
effects of surprise, inadvertence, or at most very slight malice.
If an explanation is necessary, it is the first to accuse itself.
Never does it permit the keeping of a painful thought against any
of the brethren, and does all in its power to hinder them from the
same; and, moreover, excuses all signs of contempt, ingratitude,
rudeness, peculiarities, etc.

Cassian makes mention of a religious who, having received a box on
the ear from his abbot in presence of more than two hundred
brethren, made no complaint, nor even changed colour. St. Gregory
praises another religious, who, having been struck several times
with a stool by his abbot, attributed it not to the passion of the
abbot, but to his own fault. He adds that the humility and


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