The following is a handout for the adult formation class at St Timothy's Episcopal Church on February 15, 2017.
O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity1 are nothing worth2; Send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity3, the very bond of peace and of all virtue4, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee5. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
1. What is charity?
b. 1 John 4.8: Deus caritas est. God is charity.
c. 1 Cor 13: Fides spes caritas maior autem his est caritas. Faith, hope, charity. The greatest of these is charity.
d. Caritas = charity. Christian love. Agape.
i. Is Charity friendship? (IIa-IIae.Q23.A1)
ii. Aristotle had different types of friendship (useful, delightful, virtuous). Virtuous friendship desires the good for the other.
iii. Not just desiring the good of the object for ourselves (I love wine. I love horses. We do not have friendship with wine or horses.)
iv. Jesus: “I no longer call you servants…I call you friends.” John 15.15
v. Friendship involves communication and not just the desiring of the good.
vi. Charity is friendship of man for God.
vii. When you desire the good for the other, you love those whom your friend loves, as they are an extension of that person. Hence we love our neighbor, not because they are our neighbor, but because God loves them.
2. Nothing worth (IIa-IIae.Q23.A7)
a. Every act is focused toward an end. There is a proximate and particular end and an universal and ultimate end.
b. For an act to be truly good – truly virtuous – and therefore of charity, it must have God as the end. When a seemingly good act lacks this universal orientation towards God, it is devoid of charity.
c. Aquinas “The ultimate and principal good of man is the enjoyment of God, to this good man is ordered by charity.”
d. If the particular end leads to the universal end or it doesn’t. If it leads to God, it is of charity. If it doesn’t not, it is not truly good.
e. Example: Jane Doe gives $50,000 a year to St Timothy’s. She does so primarily to receive a write off on her taxes. While it benefits the church, does this particular end lead her to the universal end which is the enjoyment of God?
3. The Gift of the Holy Spirit (IIa-IIae.Q23.A2)
a. Aquinas: Charity is created in the soul
b. “But it is evident that the act of charity surpasses the nature of the power of the will, so that, therefore, unless some form be superadded to the natural power, inclining it to the act of love, this same act would be less perfect than the natural acts and the acts of the other powers; nor would it be easy and pleasurable to perform.”
c. BCP, 308 “…Give them an inquiring and discerning hearta, the courage to will and persevereb, a spirit to know and to love youc, and the gift and joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
i. A. faith
ii. B. hope
iii. C. love/charity
4. The bond of all virtue (IIa-IIae.Q23.A6)
a. 1 Cor 13 – the greatest of these is charity/love.
b. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, are the greatest of all virtues as they have God as their end. Charity is the greatest of the theological virtues.
c. Faith obtains God through knowledge of truth.
d. Hope obtains God through the acquisition of good. (IIa-IIae.Q17.A1)
i. Hope is desire for a future good. Christian hope is a desire for a good that relies on the Divine Assistance. Christian hope obtains God because we must lean on him.
e. Charity obtains God himself so we may rest in Him.
5. Counted dead before thee (IIa-IIae-Q23.A12)
a. Charity is destroyed by one mortal sin