Charity in the World

Father Geiermann discusses how we can put fraternal charity into practice during our earthly lives. He writes: “The Saviour gave His followers a practical rule of conduct when He said: ‘Be ye wise as serpents and simple as doves’ (Matt 10:16). We must be wise or prudent without being crafty, and charitable without being foolish. To exercise this prudence we must avoid all rash judgments, words, and actions on the one hand, and on the other give no one our trust or confidence till they have shown themselves worthy of it.” Thus, we read: “Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends” (Sir 6:13). Geiermann says that “we are simple as doves when (1) we do nothing in look, word, or deed to deceive our neighbor; (2) when we edify him by our self-possession, and by the integrity of our speech and deportment; and (3) especially by our forbearance and Christian charity.”

“Christian charity is that divine virtue whereby we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. The infallible test of Christian charity is our charity towards our neighbor. The noblest acts of fraternal charity are summed up in the Seven Corporal, and the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.”

“The Corporal Works of Mercy are: (1) to feed the hungry; (2) to give drink to the thirsty; (3) to clothe the naked; (4) to ransom the captive; (5) to harbor the harborless; (6) to visit the sick; (7) to bury the dead.”

“The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: (1) to admonish the sinner; (2) to instruct the ignorant; (3) to counsel the doubtful; (4) to comfort the sorrowful; (5) to bear wrongs patiently; (6) to forgive all injuries; (7) to pray for the living and the dead.”

“Our divine Saviour Himself declares that at the general judgment He will pronounce sentence upon mankind according to the works of mercy they have performed.” For Christ said, “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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