TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
The first difficulty, O Christian soul, is to determine to perform the charity. Alas! if Providence has cradled us a little in Its favours, we soon fall asleep in this cradle. It offers us at our desire a roof to shelter us, clothes to cover us, and much more than our bread of every day. Too easily we isolate ourselves in this comfort, and we draw around us an horizon which we hardly pass. The time is short, you say. A few moments for prayer, then my days are taken up between my duties in my family and in the world. I do not refuse an alms when I can give it, but do not ask more of me. Precisely, 0 Christian soul; I do ask more of you. I ask you to give yourself to the labour of charity. In what, then, consists this labour ? You must exercise yourself, firstly, to look at the misery of the poor; not to turn your eyes away from all the misfortunes which surround you, and only consider your comfort in order to have greater pity for the poor creatures who are less favoured than we are. But this is only the preparation for the work: you must go further.
Permit me to cite an example to you which I borrow from the holy Gospel, and that Jesus Christ Himself proposes to us—the example of the Good Samaritan. He approaches the wounded man, he binds his wounds, he pours in oil and wine. The wine signifies strength, the oil is the type of gentleness. 0 Christian soul, if you would become a worthy instrument of charity, be, at the same time, gentle and strong. Pour freely the wine and the oil! Ah! the oil of sweet charity alone, which you will spread over the wounds of the poor, will be for him a strengthening wine which will revive all his courage. And this is not all. The Samaritan places the wounded man on his horse; he leads him to an inn, and carefully recommends him to the host. He gives firstly for him twopence, and he adds: "Whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I will repay thee." (Luke x. 35.)