Characteristics of Fraternal Charity – Part 4 of 4

Father Valuy states: “Charity lavishes care on the sick and infirm, on the old, on guests and new-comers. It requires that we visit those who are ill, to cheer and console them, to foresee their wants, and thereby to spare them the pain or humiliation of asking for anything.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet urges: “Esteem the sick, love them, respect and honour them, as being consecrated by the unction of the Cross and marked with the character of a suffering Jesus.”

Father Valuy observes: “How many times are the sick and the old made to consider themselves as an inconvenient burden, or like a useless piece of furniture! . . . Did our Divine Lord work less efficaciously for the Church when He hung on the Cross than when He preached? We must, then, do for the sick and the old who are now bearing their cross what we would have wished to do for Jesus in His suffering.”

“Charity pays honour to the aged in every respect, coincides with their sentiments, consults them, forestalls their desires, and attempts not to reform in them what cannot be reformed.”

“Charity receives fraternally all guests and new-comers, and makes us treat them as we would wish to be treated under similar circumstances.”

“We do not remember often enough our dear dead, our departed brethren,” says St. Francis de Sales, “and the proof of it is that we speak so little of them. We try to change the discourse as if it were hurtful. We let the dead bury their dead. Their memory perishes with us like the sound of the funeral knell, without thinking that a friendship which perishes with death is not true. It is a sign of piety to speak of their virtues as it urges us to imitate them.”

Father Valuy notes: “Charity also prays for those who want help most, and who are often known to God alone—those whose constancy is wavering, those who are led by violent temptations to the edge of the precipice. . . . It is one of the most substantial advantages we have in religion to know that we are never forsaken in life or death; to find always a heart that can compassionate our pains, a hand which sustains us in danger and lifts us when we fall.”

Quotations from Benoit Valuy, Fraternal Charity (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1908).

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