Growing in Charity
“So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –1 Corinthians 13:13
God is love, and our vocation, our greatest duty in life, is to love. The theological virtue of love is the greatest of all the virtues. It is the very essence of God. Love is the absolute greatest thing there is. The quality that makes saints unimaginably beautiful is their love.
What is charity?
“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” –CCC 1822
Living with charity
We can so easily confuse love, charity, with a feeling, like our other feelings. But love doesn’t just come upon us like our other emotions; we don’t simply “feel love” like we “feel sad.” Love comes from us, in a beautifully active way by our own free choice, making it far more powerful and transformative in our lives than emotions that come and go. Our hearts long for—and were made for—love: to love and to be loved. God is love, which is why our hearts long for God, whether or not we sometimes realize He is who were longing for most.
3 ideas to help you grow in charity
- Commit to praying more than you do. Prayer is a gift of charity that we can give God and ourselves! He longs to grow in loving relationship with us, and prayer is the way we work on our relationship together with Him. Think about praying for at least ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. Also try and stop in to see Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in Adoration at your local parish at least once a week.
- Jesus tells us in the Bible to love our enemies. Love of enemies is one of the most difficult, but transformative things we can do in our lives. Think of someone who you hold a grudge against. Pray for God to help you to forgive that person. Whatever has happened, ask God for you to truly love them, by having mercy on them through forgiveness.
- Loving those in our own homes can be very challenging at times, but it is one of the greatest ways to practice charity and grow in holiness. Who in your family can you show love to in a creative way today, this week, or this month? Think of an act of charity you can do for them, and do it.
What do the experts say?
“Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved.” –St. Robert Bellarmine
“At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity.” –St. John of the Cross
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” –1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man’s entire relation to God and to his neighbor.” –St. Aelred of Rievaulx
If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8). –St. Albert the Great