Monthly Spiritual Exercise Group
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The Imperative Of Charity: Spiritual Exercise 01/10/22

Please join us Monday 01/10/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET).

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

The Imperative Of Charity

The beginning of a new year can be a meaningful time to ask where we should find ourselves at the end of our journey. What are we meant to have accomplished? St. John of the Cross tells us that our personal judgment will be an examination in love. But what kind of love? We rightly or wrongly love many things, from pizza to sports to family and even to various kinds of sin.

But there is a kind of love that transcends purely human love. We know this love as charity. Charity is a participation in divine love, and it helps us love as God loves. This is not something we can do well without divine help. But it is extremely important, because, as St. Robert Bellarmine says: “Charity is that with which no man is lost and without which no man is saved.”

The Lord infuses charity into our souls at our Baptism as a sharing of our new life with Him. Charity doesn’t necessarily grow in quantity as it does in intensity, according to our faithfulness in exercising it. Charity helps us to fulfill the Lord’s requirements and sanctifies us at the same time.

The spiritual life is essentially about this. We are challenged to come to love the way God loves, with a divine fire and an eye that sees the goodness of the Father where it would otherwise be invisible. This is the way we truly participate in the mystery of God at work in the world. All His works unfold in and through charity, in and through His divine love. Charity is the vehicle through which God changes the world. Nothing else lasts.

The perfect profile of a person who moves under this divine influence is given to us by St. Paul. A person filled with charity is patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, does not seek his own interests, is not quick-tempered, and does not brood over injury. He does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He rightly shows that Love never fails. 1 Cor 13: 4-8

But Christ also delivers a sober warning concerning this kind of divinely inspired love. A time will come when, because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

“…many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.” Mt. 24: 10-13

The demand at such a time will be to practice heroic charity, the kind of Paschal love that Jesus showed toward those who tortured and killed Him. He could do this because, in divine charity, He still recognized his executioners as children of the Father, estranged brothers and sisters, albeit unrecognizably disfigured, yet capable of being converted up to their last breath.

We will not, in the end, be judged on accomplishments unless they are the works of love. “If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13: 1-3

Our personal future and the future of our world depends on our growth in charity, for “It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God,” says St. Albert the Great. “But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)

May 2022 be a year of exponential growth in Charity!

1. What does it take to come to love as God has loved you?

2. What today particularly works against the growth of charity in the world and what can you do to keep the love of God from dying out in people’s lives?

3. St. Paul tell us that we can do many things that ultimately have no meaning if they are not informed by love. What has charity looked like. In your life? What indicates its presence?

4. Are you able to see Christ in everyone? Are you able to see a brother or sister even in those who hurt you? How do you understand “paschal love” in this respect?

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