Charity – Twenty-Sixth Day of November
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. This is the greatest and the first commandment,
and the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” — St. Matt. 22:38
True love, which alone is meritorious and durable, comes from a charity which makes us love our neighbor in God and for God; that is, because God wills that we love Him, and because our neighbor is dear to God, or because God is in him. It is not wrong to love him for other honorable motives, because he has done us some good, or because we see beautiful qualities in him, if at the same time we love him more for God than for these human motives. Nevertheless, the less we love him for these natural qualities, the more our love is pure and perfect. This pure love does not prevent us from loving certain persons more than others, such as our preference comes from their closer resemblance to God, or because God wills it. Oh, how rare is this kind of love! — St. Francis of Sales.
This saint always considered God in his neighbor, and his neighbor in God. Hence the respect and love he showed to all, the civility in all his actions. It might be said that his courtesy to all was an act of religion. He wrote as follows to the Superior of a convent: “Hold yourself well-balanced with your daughters, lest you might distribute your affections or favors according to their natural qualities. How many there are who are not to our taste who are agreeable to God! Charity considers true virtue and the beauty of the soul, and diffuses itself over all without partiality.”
One of the principal virtues of St. Vincent de Paul was to see only God in men, and in them to honor His divine perfections. These considerations excited in his heart a love full of respect for all, but especially for priests, because he saw in them a perfect image of the power and holiness of the Creator.
St. Magdalene of Pazzi loved creatures because God loved them. She rejoiced in the love He had for them, and the perfection He communicated to them. A short time before her death, she said that the great love she had for all the religious of the monastery had no other motive than the love of God.
My God, I love my neighbor in Thee and for Thee, because Thou willest that I love him, because he is dear to Thee, and Thou art in Him. Let all my acts of civility be so many acts of religion.