The Bond of Charity

Father Roberto Cano, FSSP




So there abide faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.  1 Cor. XIII, 13

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.


            On this Quinquagesima Sunday, the last Sunday before the season of Lent, Holy Mother Church makes a final attempt to orient our minds and hearts to the true meaning of this holy season.  In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we hear the first reference of Our Lord’s Passion which He is to suffer for our Redemption and the promise of His subsequent Resurrection.  And in the epistle, St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians to follow the Lord’s command to abide in charity. We see then, both in the epistle and the Gospel, that the Church is calling us to practice more fervently the supernatural virtue of charity, but also to meditate upon the Passion and Death of Our Lord, Who bore innumerable sufferings for infinite love of us, His sinful creatures.  The Church through the sacred text is teaching us that Lent is primarily a season in which we should grow in the love of God and our neighbor and to come to a greater appreciation of the Supreme Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  The One, True religion of God, the Catholic religion is founded upon the two-fold precept of love of God and love of neighbor; it is fitting, therefore, to consider what this virtue truly is and its importance for us as Roman Catholics.

            There is no denying that in the past thirty to forty years in the Church, there has been a collapse of catechesis, that is, of proper formation and instruction in the Catholic faith.  To such a degree that classes of CCD, have come to be known solely as classes of cutting, coloring and drawing.  Burlap banners, banal songs, and a loss of the sense of sin have become the hallmark of these programs of so called Catholic education.  All under the mantra that, “God is love.”  These mislead souls would want us to believe that because God is love, it is therefore, possible for a man to live a life of sin and debauchery and still be pleasing to Almighty God.  But this type of ideology or better yet false theology is both absurd and impossible!  For the infinitely Good God can have nothing to do with that which is evil, because it is necessarily opposed to Him, Who as God is necessarily good.  It is necessary, then, to first speak about what true Christian charity is not in order to have a right estimation what it actually is.

            First and foremost, Christian charity is not merely goodwill.  Although goodwill is important and the condition and the beginning of friendship, Christian charity is much more than just being “nice” to other people especially if we are only nice to those who are also nice to us.  For Our Blessed Lord said, “For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have?  Do not even the publicans this?  And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more?  Do not also the heathen this?” (Matt. V, 46-47).  We cannot fail to forget that the principal act of charity is to love and not so much to be loved.  However, our fallen human nature tends to seek to love only those who love us, but as Our Lord says where is the merit in this type of love?  True Christian charity seeks union even with our enemies, since charity seeks unity with God for both our selves and our enemies in Heaven.  To be clear, then, charity is more than affability (while this is important) even the most pagan of men can be pleasant with his neighbor when he wishes to do so, but this does not require the supernatural virtue of charity.  Secondly, charity is not mere social work or humanitarian efforts of relief.  Although it is true that a charitable man will manifest his love of God and of his neighbor by exterior works, the proper order of charity must always be observed.  If we are eager to help those suffering in other parts of the world to the detriment of those closest to us, then where is our charity?  In other words, how is it possible for me to “love” my neighbor in China or Haiti when I fail to love my spouse, children or fellow parishioner?  Finally, true Christian charity is not opposed to the truth.  To use the words of St. Paul in today’s epistle, “charity rejoiceth with the truth” (1 Cor. XIII, 6).  We are completely mistaken if we believe that we are being charitable to others by compromising the truth.  To call evil good or a disordered inclination as something natural is not charity, but rather is to participate in another’s sin and puts our own soul in danger of eternal damnation.  So much licentiousness and debauchery take place in society under the banner of tolerance, but we must remember that our Christian duty requires us to love the sinner and hate the sin, which on occasion may require us to correct our neighbor.  While we can never judge the intentions of the sinner we can judge when duty requires it whether an act in and of itself is sinful.  For example, when a woman commits an abortion the act of taking away an innocent life is always gravely wrong, however, we do not know nor can we pretend to know under what conditions or with what intention she committed this act which may mitigate the culpability.  Therefore, to out right condemn the woman as a heartless murderer and a woman of ill-repute is rash at the very least.  True Christian charity, dear brethren, always seeks to give others the benefit of the doubt.  We do so, not by denying the sin or evil committed, but by presuming the best intentions of the other within the limits of right reason. 

            The question still remains, however, what is charity?  Charity is an infused theological virtue residing in the will that moves us to love God and the things associated with God for His own sake (propter Deum).  This definition is most helpful for several reasons, foremost because it reminds us that charity is above all a supernatural habit, which implies that it must be infused into our souls by God in order for us to possess it.  To put it in the words of St. Paul, “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us” (Rom. V, 5).  A reminder that we cannot fully love God simply through our fallen human nature, since the act (i.e. of charity) must be proportionate to the object which in this case is supernatural.  In other words, to love a supernatural Being we need to do so by a supernatural act.  If we love God through nature, we are doing so by a natural love based on what God gives us, namely our existence and sustenance.  However, if we love God by supernatural charity we love Him for His own sake.  Since charity is a theological virtue, it is clear then, that its object is God, the Divine Good, Who can be known by the intellect alone. And therefore charity as the definition tells us resides in the will whose proper object is the good.  This is an important point because we need to realize that once charity is infused into our souls by sanctifying grace it can only be lost by a subsequent act of the will, namely mortal sin.  Once we are in the state of sanctifying grace, God does not abandon us unless we abandon Him first.  Venial sin does not diminish charity in us, but rather impedes its operation. 

            Charity, like all of the created world, has a certain order and the principle of that order is God Himself.  In the order of charity, God is to be loved first and above all others even more than our very selves.  Second in the order of charity, is the love of self understood in the proper sense.  That is to say, we love ourselves for the sake of God, Who wants our salvation.  True self love, therefore, always seeks what is best for one’s own spiritual welfare and eternal salvation.  Any friendship or romantic relationship which leads one into sin cannot be based on true love as it violates the order of charity which requires the individual to put his own spiritual well-being first.  Finally, in the order of charity comes our love for others especially those closest to us e.g. parents, siblings, spouses, children, fellow parishioners etc.  Charity requires us to see our neighbor from the point of view of God and to love our neighbor out of our love of God.  The litmus test for testing our love of God is our fraternal charity towards our neighbor.  As St. Teresa of Avila instructed her nuns, “We cannot be sure if we are loving God, although we may have good reason to believe that we are, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor.  And be certain that, the farther advanced you find you are in this, the greater the love you will have for God” (IC V, 3).  We are fooling ourselves if we believe we truly love God while at the same time treat those closest to us by the bond of charity with disdain and contempt.  A husband or wife who is kind to everyone except their spouse is failing greatly in their state of life just as much as a priest who would treat everyone

kindly with the exception of his brother priests in the rectory.  Charity begins in the home, that is, with those persons closest to us whatever our state of life may be.  Listen to the words of St. John, “Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God.  And every one that loveth, is born of God and knoweth God.  He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity.  By this the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by Him.  In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.  My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another…If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother: he is a liar.  For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?  And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother” (1 Jn. IV, 7-12; 20-21). 

            Not only will we be charitable towards our neighbor if we truly posses the virtue of charity but we will also possess the effects of charity.  The effects of charity are primarily the 12 fruits of the Holy Ghost.  Spiritual joy is a particular effect of charity.  The more a person loves God, the more joyful that person will be.  Why?  Because when we possess charity we are oriented to our final end.  It is no wonder then that those souls which are steeped in sin or who are stingy with their love are often so miserable and suffer great trials of depression.  For they are living their lives for anything, except for what they we created to do, namely to love God.  Mother Teresa would often remark, “When I see someone sad, I always think they are refusing something to Jesus.”  Is this not us who she is speaking about especially when something does not go as we wish or had planned?  Yet, the saints remind us that our sorrow can be converted into joy if we generously offer our trials to God.  Not only will the charitable man have joy in his heart, but also peace which is the tranquility of order.  Peace will reign not only in the soul of the individual, but also in his relationships with others as long as he generously practices this virtue.  The converse is also true, where charity does not reign in the hearts of the people there is neither peace nor joy.  It is a clear indication that charity has ceased to exist or at the bare minimum is beginning to fade.  For us, Roman Catholics, charity is strongly rooted in that sacrament which we call the bond of charity, the Holy Eucharist.  Since it is through this sacrament that we, the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, are truly united to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity; it follows that the union of the members should grow from their union with Christ in this sacrament.  As one Archbishop admonished his faithful, “We too need this charity, we who believe, who have the Faith, who want to stay Catholic and Roman until the last moment of our lives.  So we must remain in charity.  This Sacrament is the sign and symbol of the love that emanates from Our Lord’s charity.  Yet how painful it is sometimes to think that people who nourish themselves daily with the Eucharist never manage to be completely dominated by the virtue of charity!  They need to criticize, to form factions, to make rash judgments, to display antipathy towards persons to whom they should show sympathy.  Well, then, let us who want to keep Tradition, this holy faith in the Blessed Eucharist, make the resolution today to also keep the fruit of the Holy Eucharist.  It does not suffice to believe in it; it does not suffice to say that we are attached to the tradition of faith and hope in the Eucharist without having within us all its fruits” (The Mass of All Time, 143). 

            Domine ut videam, Lord that I may see!  These are the words of the blind man of Jericho to Our Lord as He is passing by.  They are words that not only display a great act of faith, but also one of humility.  As we approach even closer to the holy days of the Lenten season, we, too, should ask Our Lord to grant us the grace to see ourselves as we truly are and our neighbor through the supernatural lens of charity.  When there are supernatural problems in the home or even the parish, the solution must be a supernatural one, and that is charity.  Charity alone unites us to God and our place in Heaven will be determined by the degree of our love.  How much do we realize this? Perhaps not enough, because if we did both you and I would be more earnest in the practice of this virtue.  Everything in our life is a response to the infinite charity God has bestowed upon us.  We must be convinced that the saints are correct in saying that, “love is repaid by love alone.”  In the spiritual life our model is always the divine model, Jesus Christ, Who spared not an ounce of His Blood for our sake and Whose Heart was pierced by a lance.  It is to this degree that God has loved us, the question we must ask ourselves is: what has been my response thus far?  If we’ve been miserly then now is the time to begin anew.  And if we have already begun to be generous now is the time to continue being generous and not to go back, “for God loveth a cheeful giver” (2 Cor. IX, 7).  Let us, dear brethren, continue to pray for one another asking God to widen our hearts in order to be quick to forgive any harm we have suffered and to bear our trials with great joy and peace.  May we never forget the words of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, “There is only one thing to do during the night, the one night of life which will come only once, and this is to love, to love Jesus with all the strength of our heart and to save souls for Him so that He may be loved!” (With Empty Hands, 16).

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.


True Faith

Father Roberto Cano, FSSP


Arise be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.  Isa. LX, 1

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.


This solemn feast of the Epiphany is the continuation of the mystery of Christmas, of that mystery of God becoming man.  As the meaning of the word Epiphany suggests, the Church commemorates on this day God’s manifestation to the Gentiles.  Unlike the Old Covenant, where God would make Himself manifest through a burning bush or a pillar of cloud, in the New and Eternal Covenant God manifests Himself as True God and True Man, in the Person of Jesus Christ.   It was decreed in the divine plan to impart first the fruits of the redemption to the nation of the Jews as is clear by Our Lord’s birth in the land of Israel and by the announcement of the angels to the shepherds on the night of Christmas.  However, on the Epiphany, God is also manifested to the Gentiles as is understood by the coming of the Magi from the East.  In the Magnificat antiphon of today’s feast we pray, “We celebrate a holy day adorned by three miracles: this day a star led the Magi to the manger; this day water was changed into wine at the marriage-feast; this day Christ chose to be baptized in the Jordan for our salvation, alleluia.”  Indeed, the Church recalls these three miracles on this particular day as they are all clear manifestations or epiphanies of the divinity and dignity of Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world.  What is it then, that the Church wishes us to contemplate?  It would seem that the Church through these miracles is evoking our faith in the divinity of the helpless Babe of Bethlehem.  It is only fitting then to speak about the virtue of faith and its great importance in our lives as Catholics.

            Faith-what is it?  It is a supernatural habit by which we firmly believe those things to be true which God has revealed.  Or to put it in the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, “faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” (Heb. XI, 1).  Faith, as you all know, is a theological virtue meaning that its end or object is Almighty God.  By the virtue of faith man seeks to know the truth about God and the created world in its relation to God from the point of view of the First Truth, that is, God Himself.  Which means that faith first and foremost is a gift bestowed on man by God since it is only through this gift that man can view God and the created world from His point of view as He created and intended them.  Faith is not something man can obtain by his own volition.  It essentially orders the intellect towards God and gives it the ability to determine if a certain proposition is true depending on whether or not it is in accord with divine Revelation.  The virtue requires, however, a further act which we call the act of faith or believing.  Mainly, it is the assent of the intellect under the motion of the will to a truth proposed for belief which is based upon sufficient authority.  The sufficient authority is Almighty God and since He is the authority the believer has the absolute certainty that what He believes is true.  To put it simply, in order to believe we need both our intellects and wills, our intellects to tell us what to believe and our wills to assent to it.  But in order for our wills to grant assent there must be a further habit which perfects the will and that further habit is charity.  Thus, faith which is accompanied by charity is called formed faith and faith without charity is called unformed faith.  The man who is in mortal sin and therefore without supernatural charity has unformed faith which renders the virtue powerless, sterile.  Although, he might have the same knowledge as any believing soul in the state of sanctifying grace e.g. belief in the Blessed Trinity, nevertheless, the divine truths have not affect upon him and he lives his life as if God did not exist.  This point is crucial when we examine our present day situation in the Church where so many baptized Catholics have fallen away from the practice of the faith.  In part, the problem can be attributed to the lack of proper catechesis, after all a man cannot love that which he does not know.  But it can also be attributed to the abundance of grave sins on individual souls that render these persons all together indifferent to the practice of the faith.   A point to keep in mind especially with our relatives and friends who have fallen away.  Often what is most needed is not a convincing argument or a tongue lashing, but rather a thorough and sincere confession to restore that soul once again in the life of grace. 

            In the ancient rite of Baptism, the godparents of the child to be baptized are asked by the priest the following question: What do you ask of the Church of God?  And they respond, Faith.  Upon which a second question is asked:  What does faith grant to you?  And they respond, eternal life.  And here, dear brethren, we have the answer to why faith is so important in our lives.  Because without faith we cannot have eternal life!  No faith, no salvation!  However, it should be clear that the priority of faith is only in the order of understanding as a traveler must first know where he is going before he can arrive to his destination.  Faith tells us what to believe to get to Heaven, but in and of itself is insufficient to get us there.  The greatest virtue in this life is charity for it will be as St. John of the Cross has said, “At the evening of this life we will be judged by our love.”  The Epistle of St. James is clear in this matter that faith without works is dead.  Faith is not simply a matter of confidence or trust in God, but rather it is operative meaning that the man of faith will cooperate with God’s grace to accomplish good works so that he can grow in charity. 

            And yet, there is another point to be gleaned from the ancient rite of Baptism, namely, that the gift of faith which God bestows comes to man through the Church.  Which necessarily implicates that the faith which grants eternal life can only come from the one Church that is its Guardian.  Since there is only One Lord there can only be one faith and one baptism, otherwise, there would be a multiplicity of faiths and baptisms which would lead to the Lord, but that is impossible!  For we either believe that Christ is the Son of God and all that He has revealed is true or we believe that He is not the Son of God and that what He said was false and nothing more than an opinion.  This is based on that undeniable metaphysical principle of non-contradiction, which states that a proposition cannot be true and true in the same respect and at the same time.  We know by faith that Christ founded His Church on earth as commissioned to St. Peter and that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church from which we receive the gift of faith and salvation.  It was 80 years ago to the day, that Pius XI, of blessed memory, wrote a monumental encyclical on fostering true religious unity or as more commonly called today ecumenism.  In that encyclical Mortalium Animos he states:

Christ Our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head, with an authority teaching by word of mouth, and by the ministry of sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace…This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations…” It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists today and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ Our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of Hell should never prevail against it.  (MA, 6)

All too often in our day, there are certain members of the clergy and the faithful who wish to create false impressions of unity with the different Protestant sects and false religions of the world, but the reality is that unity, as the catechism teaches us, is based on faith, government and the sacraments.  Therefore, unity cannot be had with any group which does not share in the same divinely revealed faith or is subject to the same government, namely the Pope and the bishops in communion with him or possesses the 7 sacraments.  This is why later in the encyclical Pope Pius XI would say, “Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.  To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it.”

All that has been said makes us return again to the Magi of today.  For these 3 Kings of Persia received the gift of faith and with haste they came to adore the King of Kings.  They saw His star in the sky and they followed even when the star was no longer visible.  And finally, when they beheld the Child with His Mother they fell on their knees and adored.  Thus, they fulfilled the prophecy of the Psalmist, “And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.  Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down, and his enemies shall lick the ground.  The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts: and all kings of the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him” (Ps. LXXI, 8-11).  The 3 Kings are in a certain sense our forefathers in the Faith as they were the first of the Gentiles to recognize Christ as the Messiah.  A reminder to us that the salvation of Christ is for everyone, however, we must be willing to accept it.  As we said earlier, faith is a gift and a supernatural one and if we fail to guard it and protect it we may risk to lose it forever.  Sin and especially mortal sin is our greatest enemy for it can eventually rob us of our faith.  The gift of faith is like that pearl of great price spoken about in the Gospel, who when the merchant found it, went his way and sold all that he had and bought it cf. Mt. XIII, 45- 46.  Let us never fail to forget, dear friends, that to be Roman Catholic is not for the faint of heart, but rather it is as Christ said, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Mt. XI, 12).  Why then, do we hesitate in our faith? 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost  Amen.