The word ‘charity’ almost always brings to mind material aid offered to the needy. And this it is: almsgiving is a praiseworthy habit, which has always been promoted by Holy Mother Church.
Perusing the pages of human history, and comparing ages long past, peoples distant from one another, and the most different cultures, we notice one common denominator: the presence of egoism, power struggles, greed and all the other vices related to pride. It is not surprising, since our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into the trap of the evil one, thinking that by their disobedience they would become ‘like gods’ (cf Gen 3:5).
When taking a look at Ecclesiastical writings of diverse eras, our attention is called by the frequent affirmations of Pontiffs, Bishops and holy men lamenting the adversities that the Church was passing through in their days.
The figure of the Good Shepherd, ready to confront the wolf so as to protect and save his sheep even at the cost of his own life (Jn 10: 11-12) is an eloquent and very moving image. Created by Our Lord Jesus Christ himself to describe his own sentiments, it also expresses the pastoral zeal that every Bishop should have for the competent fulfillment of his mission, in collaboration with his priests and under the authority of the High Pontiff, “teaching, sanctifying, and governing” (Vatican Council II. Decree Christus Dominus, no. 11).
As everyone knows, the famous saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” insinuates an adaptation to the customs and culture of the places we visit, in order to feel more at ease and be more easily accepted by the inhabitants. This norm is applied, obviously, to those practices that don’t offend good morals, for it’s also true that as good Catholics we should never frequent places where this could occur. Even more, in places where our faith might be put at risk.
‘You water the hills from your lofty abode; the earth is sated with the fruit of your works’ (Psalm 103:13). This simple material reality presented by the sacred text – of rain that irrigates the mountains, giving rise to springs and streams that in turn water the Earth – was chosen by the Angelic Doctor for his inaugural lecture at the University of Paris.
There are few images that so authentically and poetically reflect the relationship between God and mankind, as the shepherd and his flock. “I am the good shepherd, My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:14, 27).
For the past century the world has been submerged in terrible chaos. All of the conflicts experienced by humanity until this point were nothing in comparison with the warfare of the twentieth century. And it wasn’t just because of military apparatus, but also cruel ideologies employed with the intention of oppressing humanity.
‘You will be like gods’ (Gen 3:5). When Eve fell into the temptation proposed by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, there were immediate and disastrous consequences for our first parents: expulsion from Paradise, loss of supernatural and preternatural gifts, and a life of suffering.
Recently, it has become common to hear affirmations regarding the right to religious liberty that end up confusing diverse concepts such that it seems to indicate an almost obligatory religious pluralism that intends to put all religions – Christian or non-Christian – on the same level.