For the poor, orphans, widows, and in general for all those who are in temporal or spiritual need. The precept of charity obliges us to love our neighbor internally and externally. We must love our neighbor internally, that is, our love for him must come from our heart. Hence Pope Innocent XL has condemned the pro position: "We are not bound to love our neighbor by an internal and formal act."; It is, therefore, a sin to take pleasure in the misfortune of a neighbor, or to be grieved at his welfare. However, it is not wrong to take pleasure in the temporal misfortune of an obstinate sinner, if we have reason to believe that such a misfortune will induce him to amend his life and to oppress no longer the innocent. But it is a sin to delight in the death, or in any kind of misfortune of our neighbor on account of some temporal advantage that we derive from it.
However, to delight in the cause of some temporal advantage, is one thing, and to delight in the advantage itself the effect of the cause is another. There are particular cases in which delight in the effect of a certain cause is no sin, whilst delight in the cause of the effect is a sin. It is, for instance, no sin to be delighted in the acquisition of property which comes to us after the death of a parent ; but it is sinful to rejoice at his death. Hence Pope Innocent XL has condemned the proposition (15 Prop.) which asserts "that it is lawful for a son to rejoice at the death of his father, on account of the inheritance which will come to him."
We should nourish and increase the love of our heart for our neighbor, by making frequent acts of love. "With out such frequent acts of love," says St. Alphonsus, "we shall scarcely be able to practice the charity which we owe to our neighbor. We should make such an act of love at least once a month."
Another means to practice the love of our heart for our neighbor is to show compassion for those who are afflicted in soul and body. True compassion makes us feel the misfortunes of our neighbor as if they were our own. We must also love our neighbor externally. Our life on earth is full of bodily and spiritual miseries. We are liable to meet with different reverses of fortune. How many have not been thrown from the summit of wealth into an abyss of poverty ? Hence the precept of charity obliges us to be always willing to help all without exception, and assist them according to our ability. "Give to the good," says Holy Scripture, "and receive not a sinner" (Ecclus. xii., 5) ; that is : give nothing to the sinner to foster his iniquity, but relieve human nature, because it is the work of God. It may not always be in our power to assist every body in his wants; but charity does not oblige us to do what is beyond our means. If we cannot give to every one that is in distress, charity obliges us at least to be charitably disposed towards all our fellow-men, to show sincere compassion for them in their afflictions and misfortunes, and to say, at least, some prayers for them, True charity of the heart, says St. Paul, makes us "rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep." (Rom. xii., 15.)
To be continued . . . . . . . . .