ACTS OF CHARITY IN THE FABRIC OF THE FAMILY




The last and greatest Commandment that Jesus left us, as He sat at the Last Supper celebrating and instituting the First Mass was: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

St. John of the Cross stated:  In the twilight of our existence we will be judged on love.”   Doctor of the Church renowned for his meekness and charity, St. Francis de Sales offers his wisdom on the virtue of love: “The measure that we should love God is to love Him without measure.” The greatest of all theologians, the Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas asserts that charity (supernatural love) is the queen of all virtues. Finally, the Apostle St. Paul says that charity is the bond of perfection and that if I am even willing to offer my body to be burned and do not have love then I am nothing. (I Corinthians 13).

Convinced of the sublime reality and character of love, let us offer concrete ways that we can practice charity within the context of our own families. For most of us that is where it should start.  “Charity begins at home.”  The Hispanics have a saying very apropos of the topic: “Candil en la calle, oscuridad en la casa.”--- the meaning: “You can be a burning candle in the street (outside the home, but darkness inside).   I would call this the “Rip van Winkle complex”.

CONCRETE WAYS THAT WE CAN PRACTICE CHARITY AT HOME:

1.    KIND WORDS. Get into the habit of condimenting your speech by expressing kind words to the members of your household. An opportune and kind word can pull a family member out of desolation and give him wind in his sails to carry the cross that the Lord has given him. St. Francis de Sales offers this catchy maxim: “You can catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.”

2.    CLEANING CREWMAN!   If you notice something dirty, out of place, dishes in disorder and dirty, a room in shambles, instead of complaining about the mess, order the disordered! Sometimes we expend more time in complaining then it would to complete the task!

3.    SMILE GOD LOVES YOU!  One of the most authentic signs of the follower of Jesus is joy and joy is expressed by a smile. A smile is not costly; it does not take much time, investment or physical energy. But a timely smile can go a long way. It is interesting to note that a frown is contagious; however, a joyful smile is even more contagious.  St. Paul reminds us: “God loves a joyful giver.”

4.    JOY--- Charity abounds with joy, but joy is not simply a natural habit but rather one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The following is a catchy acronym that we can implement to acquire joy J.O.Y. J stands for JESUS; O  stands for OTHERS; Y stands for YOU…. If we can maintain this proper order: Jesus first, others second, and then we are last, then the net result is an abounding joy!   St. Paul exhorts us to be joyful: “Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4)

Blessed Miguel Pro--died of love for God and his country. Viva Cristo Rey!
 
5.    SUFFERING SANCTIFIED.   Suffering can do one of two things: make us either better or bitter!  The next time, when the reality of suffering knocks at your door, why not accept it peacefully from the loving hands of Divine Providence.  Then unite this suffering to the cross of Jesus and then place it on the altar of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Finally, offer this suffering that you are going through for the conversion, sanctification, and salvation of all of the members of your family, but specify one member in particular that you would especially desire most abundant graces.

In conclusion, why not start today, this very moment of your life, to live out the greatest Commandment in the world: the Commandment of love. No need to travel far and wide or go abroad on stormy seas to live out the Gospel of love. Let us decide right now to start within the context of the “Domestic Church” called the family to condiment the family life with the best ingredient: LOVE!