Friday, 14 October 2016



"Having loved his own, He loved them unto the end."— John xiii. 1.

CHARITY is certainly the first of Christian virtues. And hence can one be surprised that the Eucharist, which preserves and increases in us the virtues of Christianity, should be also, and before all, the fertile source of charity.

But charity applies to many different objects. Inasmuch as it signifies the love which we owe to God and our neighbour, it is the first command which is imposed upon us ; and already, when speaking to you of the relations which God has placed between the Eucharist and the heart, I told you how our heart easily becomes charitable under the influence of the Eucharist. But in a less general sense, charity means that virtue which leads us to take pity on the poor, to succour him with intelligence and zeal. It is of this charity that I would now speak to you.

How should the Eucharist be a stranger to it? The Saviour only concealed Himself under the Eucharistic species through pity for us; and it is thus that He invites us to show ourselves merciful with respect to the poor. But not only does the Eucharist exhort us to show mercy, It renders it sweeter and easier.

I will remind you here of one of our former conversations on the Eucharist and Labour. I said to you that if labour is for us a burden and a weariness, the Eucharist consoles and refreshes us. The exercise of charity is a labour, 0 Christian soul, admirable but difficult labour which demands extreme ardour ! Fear not, however. The Eucharist promises us Its help, and the difficulties will vanish for you at the foot of the tabernacle.

And firstly, is it indeed true that charity is a labour ? Yes, doubtless, and I could almost dare to say that it should be for you the labour of every day, and one of the most habitual occupations of your life. Do not complain of this, O Christian soul, for if you are commanded to give yourself to this labour, it is that Providence has been more prodigal to you of Its gifts. And, besides, I could not recommend to you a more sweet and useful employment of your time. Charity is a labour. I acknowledge that all charity does not merit this beautiful name. Thus, for example, to take a piece of money from one's purse, to give to the poor man who passes, is not a labour. This can be done while walking, and without much trouble. This costs us little, and brings little also back in return. But to occupy oneself actively for the poor with zeal and perseverance, and —to express my thought more definitely—to - devote oneself to one of those works which the industrious charity of the Church ceases not to invent every day in favour of those who are unhappy, this charity is a labour. Work and labour are the same thing. The labourer does his work when he ploughs his furrow, the artisan does his work when he planes a plank or cuts stones, the artist does his work when he paints on his canvas or when he sculptures his marble. Well, then, charity has equally its works, more great, more noble, more holy. To raise the poor from his misery, to shelter and nourish him when he is an orphan; to sit by his bedside when he is ill; to sustain and support him in old age; to procure for him in this world a better existence; to secure for him in heaven infinite happiness; these are the works, but this is also the labour, of charity. This labour, is it difficult ? Ah! I acknowledge that it is accompanied by consolation and joy ; and yet, I fear not to affirm it, yes, this labour is difficult, and I would now first show you the difficulties of it.