This content is taken from a Conference given by Fr. Chad Ripperger on the Three Theological Virtues and it is transcribed here by Tony Capobianco.
Permission to transcribe Father’s lecture was sought and permission was granted. The copyright remains that of Sensus Traditionis.
© 2019, Fr. Chad Ripperger - All Rights Reserved. © Sensus Traditionis
Fr. Ripperger 0:04
Charity is a friendship between God and man. And any friendship requires mutual love, and mutual love or benevolence, sometimes called goodwill is founded on what St. Thomas calls communication or a common life. In other words, you have to be living together in some way. With God, this communication or common life, and therefore friendship is the fact that God communicates eternal Beatitude to us. In other words, when we see Him face to face, and we have eternal beatitude, we can live a common life that we can share. Eternal beatitude is founded upon or is possible because of sanctifying grace, which is the creative participation in divine nature. By sanctifying grace and eternal beatitude we have a common life with God and therefore a friendship.
Fr. Ripperger 0:58
Aristotle says that friendship is really only possible when we have a common life. So he says, for instance, the dog and a human being don't have a common life. So even though we call him man's best friend, he's not a true friend, in the strict sense because he can't really love us. Except insofar as he looks at us and says, there's a person who keeps giving me food. But the point is, is that we have to have some type of common life. So I can't have a friendship with say somebody across on the other side of the planet who I've never met, I can't call or things like that. Eternal beatitude is a good thing which God wills for us, which we will for ourselves and so it is the good of eternal beatitude upon which our friendship is based. So it's because God gives us His eternal company that becomes the foundation for our friendship. Hence, the mutual love or mutual willing of the good between God and man is based upon this eternal beatitude, the fact that we can come together and love each other. The eternal beatitude is entirely beyond man's capacity to attain. And so Charity by which one loves God, exceeds our natural powers. So we can’t love God, purely on our own. God must add a virtue called Charity in our wills, which makes it possible for us to perform this supernatural act of love. It's supernatural kind of love. It's not just your common everyday form of love. Charity is higher than Faith and Hope because one of the effects of love is union. Charity, which is love of God, moves us to have union with God, even though Hope inclines us to seek this eternal beatitude and seek the means to it to the end, it’s really Charity that drives us to have this union. We cannot really love God in a proportionate way without Charity. Why?
Fr. Ripperger 2:48
Because He’s supernatural. So how can I love God in a supernatural way, which is proportionate to Him Who is supernatural without God adding something supernatural to me, that gives me the ability to do that? And that's what we call Charity. Once we receive Charity from God, it can be increased by degrees, so that with some people, they have more Charity than others. Without Charity, we could only love God for the things He gives us, not God Himself. It's very important for people to understand without the supernatural virtue, we cannot love God, it's that simple. We can love Him because, you know, we might intellectually recognize, “Okay because He gives us good things and this type of thing and so I like these good things He’s given to me.” But that's not Charity. That's just a natural human form of love and what you really love is the gift you’ve been given and not so much the giver. With Charity, it's the other way around. The gifts are just a sign of the goodness of the giver, and so we tend to love God perfectly through Charity, that is in a way that's proportionate to Him.
Fr. Ripperger 3:52
We cannot increase Charity by our actions, just like the other theological virtues. All we can do is perform actions which dispose us to Charity and then God infuses more of it in our souls, just like the other theological virtues. While in the next life, the amount of Charity we have is fixed, so once you get to heaven, you're not going to go up and down in the amount of Charity that you have. In this life Charity can be increased indefinitely, you can always increase how much of this virtue you have. And what that translates into is, you can always increase how much you love God. Most of us don't love God that much. What we really kind of love in most cases, not in all, but in most cases, is the consolations we get and we have to get beyond that.
Fr. Ripperger 4:40
This brings us to discussion at the different levels of Charity. Since Charity can be had by degrees, St. Thomas observes that there are three grades of Charity, sometimes known as the three stages of the interior life, depending on which author you're reading. This means that one can know where one is at in the interior life, that is in spiritual progress, by how much Charity you have.
Fr. Ripperger 5:02
The first degree of Charity consists of those who recede from sin and concupiscence of their disordered desires and emotions, and they're called the beginners. So these are the people who simply managed to stay out of mortal sin, and try and purge themselves have any imperfections. This is sometimes called the purgative stage, because one is trying to resist and purge one’s soul of disordered desires.
Fr. Ripperger 5:27
Then there are those who intent principally to become proficient in the good. They intend to be strengthened by the increase of Charity, because they want to grow in their love for God. And they're called the proficient. So what happens is in the process of becoming perfect, is we turn from a fixation towards created goods and evils, that is, being inclined to evil. The first stage in that is to turn away from it. Those are the beginners, just getting away from it. Then the second stage is you’re starting to turn more towards God and so you want to become more holy. And then the last grade of Charity consists of those who principally intend to adhere to God and to take fruition to Him alone. So then you turn entirely to God, He’s It. He is the only thing that means anything to you. The desire to be dissolved in Christ, that is they want to lose themselves in God, and they're called the perfect. And this is important, because what it means is, is that you see this in St. John of the cross, and St. Teresa of Avila and many of the other saints who went through mystical experiences, that when they had these experiences of God, they just completely forgot themselves, which is completely inverted to the way everything is today. As I mentioned before, everybody makes themselves the principal of judgement, even in relationship to God. You know, “I'm going to believe God, what I feel I should believe about God.” Whereas in the relationship we have with God, and even in the order of Charity, it's our obligation to conform ourselves to Him, if we want a common life with Him, we have to meet Him on His terms.
Fr. Ripperger 6:58
Since Charity is caused not by a man but by God, it cannot be increased by man’s actions. Yet the decrease of Charity is not caused by God, since He cannot cause defects or evils. Charity cannot be decreased either by man or by God. The only thing that we can do to affect charity in the negative sense is to totally lose it, which I mentioned before, we call it corruption. As the virtue completely goes out of existence in our souls. Charity is corrupted or totally lost by mortal sin. For every mortal sin turns us away from God and therefore ceases the union or love of God proper to Charity. So if you remember, love seeks union, whereas when you commit a mortal sin, you turn away from God. So you perform an action contrary to the inclination of this virtue. And if you remember from our previous discussions, that means you destroy the theological virtue, you don't decrease it, like you do in the acquired virtues, you destroy it when you act directly contrary to it. When we commit a mortal sin, God stops causing Charity in our wills. Now St. Thomas makes an interesting observation. He says, because we don't cause Charity…. God does… then we can't cause it to go out of existence. All we do is by an act of the will we create an indisposition in our will or in our soul that’s unsuited to it and then God ceases causing it in our soul and retracts His causation.
Fr. Ripperger 8:30
Venial sin does not decrease or corrupt Charity, since venial sin does not turn us away from God and remember, Charity cannot be decreased, it can only be totally lost. Venial sin, however, can dispose us to mortal sin and so it has to be avoided. Venial sin also creates bad habits in our faculties, which affects Charity’s ability to act. For example, if one has a habit of anger, Charity has a hard time inclining us to do something charitable. So what happens is when we perform these evil actions, we get into habits which block Charity’s inclination. Whereas this is one of the whole points in the spiritual life, of purging yourself of imperfections, because then when you do that, Charity can then act more readily, more perfectly. That's why people you know, that are very holy, they're just immediately inclined towards doing the good thing, because it removes all the obstacles within themselves towards Charity acting.
Fr. Ripperger 9:23
Mortal sin also affects us this way, by creating these indispositions in us. This is one of the reasons why I mentioned this before elsewhere but it’s something which I always try and bring up because you get people like this from time to time in Confession. What happens is that people will say, “Well, Father, I fell into the first sin so I just figured that I might as well enjoy myself.”, and they just keep continually mortally sinning. That’s not the answer. Well, first of all, because you have to pay back to God for every sin that you commit, and too, your disordering your faculties, so you becoming more messed up in the process. But that also means it's going to be that much harder to uproot your imperfections, and to actually lead a good life afterwards. The sin that you continue to commit, you now develop habits which incline you towards evil actions, and so becomes much more difficult to do the good thing, even when you're in the state of grace, because you created these obstacles or these bad inclinations in your faculties. So you have to be very careful about that. If you fall into mortal sin once you get up and immediately get to Confession as soon as you can.
Fr. Ripperger 10:28
On the other hand, the more Charity we have, the desires pertaining to venial sin decrease. For as one loves God, and increases in the love of God, his desire to sin diminishes. So the holier you become, the more Charity that you have, the more the imperfections just kind of evaporate, and the inclination for sin just goes away on its own.
Fr. Ripperger 10:48
In this life, it is possible to lose Charity through one mortal sin. So through one mortal sin, we can turn ourselves away from God. In the next life, as we say, in Latin, in patria, when one already has perfect union with God, and therefore Charity in heaven cannot be lost, it cannot be decreased but also it's not increased either.
Fr. Ripperger 11:09
Our Lord gave two precepts of Charity, to love God with one’s whole heart and love one's neighbor as oneself. Does this mean that God is not the only object of Charity because he seems to be setting up two different objects of Charity... ourselves and our neighbor, on one side and himself on another? But actually, it's not. Because we are to love our neighbor and ourselves, for the sake of God. Charity is not just love of neighbor. Although there is that misconception today. It’s not just love of neighbor, as Christ said look, the Gentiles do as much. That’s not what He’s talking about when he talks about Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 11:44
Rather, Charity is, you love your neighbor for the sake of God. When you see your neighbor, you see God as the motivation and your inclination to loving this person. One’s neighbor is not loved for his own sake, but through Charity he is loved for the sake of God. So when we love ourselves or our neighbor, we must always do so by loving ourselves or others, for God's sake, and not for ours. When I teach metaphysics, which is a very difficult class in the philosophical side of your training when you become a priest, to the seminarians, they always come to a section in St. Thomas, which always depresses the seminarians; because what happens is that it sets up...St. Thomas starts setting up.... he says that the proper object of God's knowledge, since God is an infinitely knowing power, the only thing that's proportionate to that is God Himself. So proper object of God's knowledge is Himself. But then he says, and the proper object of God's love is Himself because God is the only worthy object, the only infinitely good object that's worthy of an infinite ability to love.
Fr. Ripperger 12:54
But then St. Thomas says that when it comes to man, or created things, God loves them insofar as they are like Him. So in the end, God loves us for His sake. Even though He does do things for our sake, when He does it for our sake, He’s really doing it for who? He is really doing it for Himself.
Fr. Ripperger 13:18
The order of Charity, or the way that we are supposed to love our neighbor is to imitate God. God loves Himself. So we're supposed to love God with our whole heart, then we love our neighbor for the sake of God. And then as a result, God Who loves Himself, loves us for His own sake when we are being like God. So we start taking on a certain similitude towards God, the more charitable we become and the more active it becomes.
Fr. Ripperger 13:47
Our Lord gave two precepts, as I mentioned, but the point is, is that we must love our neighbor for the sake of God. So in the end, God is the only object of our affections, the only object of our love, that when we love our neighbor, which becomes perfect through Charity. It can only be done perfectly when we're loving our neighbor for the sake of God. The precept of Charity to love our neighbor as ourselves, must likewise be understood in a certain way. With Charity, one loves oneself as referred to God and for God's sake. So one is actually loving God, even when you're loving your neighbor as yourself. And as you remember, I said that the virtue of Faith and also Hope.... so the virtue of Faith and Hope helps to perfect our understanding of ourselves. And then the virtue of Charity helps us affect our proper love of self. We shouldn't want things for ourselves, except insofar as we give greater honor for it to God. So what we really want is to do everything for God. This helps us to look past ourselves to God as something more lovable, and to Whom we are directed. We are only lovable insofar as we are like Him. We are good only insofar as we are like Him, Who is goodness itself. To the degree that we are not like Him, we are not lovable. This is why I'm always nervous when people have this idea that you know, “God loves us, the way we are”. Well it depends what you mean by “are”. If you mean by “are” in the stress of being because God is Being itself, Well, okay that’s an abstract meaning. If you mean by “are”, that we're like God, fine. But if you mean the way we “are” in our sin or in our inclination, God doesn't love our bad inclinations and our disorders and our sin. He doesn't love that part of us.
Fr. Ripperger 15:36
He fulfilled the precept that He told us, love the sinner, hate the sin. In fact, Christ Himself perfectly fulfilled the order of Charity. When we commit a mortal sin, we become His enemy. We become God's enemy. But God seeks after us because as He said to us, you must love your enemies. And that's what He does with us to try and get us back, because He wants what's good for us, just as we should will what’s good for our enemies for God's sake. St. Thomas says that if you love your neighbor, who is an enemy, insofar as he's an enemy, and it's not supernaturalizing and God is not the ultimate end then it’s irrational, it's stupid. You know, people say, “Oh you just have to love your enemy.” There's a sentimental, sappy dimension to it. That's not what God and Christ are talking about in the New Testament. What He’s talking about is, you must love your neighbor for the sake of God. And that means willing the good of your neighbor, because love is willing the good of another. So I want what's good for my enemy, so that in the end, he won't be my enemy. Ultimately, what all of us want is that everybody isn't our enemy, but that everybody is our friend in heaven.
Fr. Ripperger 16:45
But having a proper love of self, helps us to look past ourselves as I mentioned. Charity perfects and rightly orders self love. How many of us have a problem because of disordered love of self? I mean, how many of us are just so hung up with ourselves, that we don't even know when we're doing things, we’re doing it because we're trying to take care of ourselves rather than thinking to myself, “In this particular moment, am I pleasing God by doing this?”
Fr. Ripperger 17:12
And this brings us to the issue of self esteem. Through Charity and Faith, we realize that in comparison to God, we are nothing, virtually nothing. Very often the use of the term self esteem is another name for the vice of pride. Humility is the virtue by which one does not judge oneself greater than one is, whereas pride is the vice by which one excessively judges one's own good. And because we excessively judge our good, we love ourselves, not only excessively more than we ought, but we love ourselves in a disordered way. Many people have low self esteem because they ought to have low self esteem. If one is a great sinner and if one's problems are caused by these grave sins, then one ought to have low self esteem because it is rightly ordered because one is truly lowly. To try to believe oneself is worthy of self love, when one is not worthy of it, does not help one’s self esteem. That simply makes one disordered and prideful. To try to cheer people up by telling them how wonderful they are, when they are not is misplaced sentimentality. It has no foundation in reality, nor in any sound spiritual practice, period.
Fr. Ripperger 18:25
Rather the order of Charity helps us to love and esteem ourselves because we're creatures of God. And that's what you have to do with the person that has low self esteem. You have to tell them, “you have to start thinking of yourself as I wish I had all these good things for me, I wish I was better. You have to start thinking yourself as I'm a creature of God. And therefore I am to be esteemed. For that reason, for God's sake, and not for my own.”
Fr. Ripperger 18:49
We learned that our real value is not in self, but in God. There is a natural inclination in man to seek his good outside of himself. As long as one has false self love, one will never seek the good outside of himself, but within oneself. That is, you’ll always be looking for your fulfillment inside yourself and as a result you'll always be unhappy. The problem is that we come up against our own nothingness, that is our own disorders, and it gets a little nauseating, and it gets a little sickening after a while if we’re truthful. If we're not, then we're just blind going around and you know, living our life deluding ourselves if we think that our real value is in self. Then as I mentioned with and alluded, true Charity on the other hand helps one to love oneself for the sake of God; to will for oneself those things that are truly good for the interior man, and to seek one's fulfillment in something greater than himself. Therefore, true self esteem consists in loving oneself, and valuing your soul in relationship to God, who (the person) is made in is His image and his destination is with God.
Fr. Ripperger 20:02
St. Thomas observed that one loves one’s body as something created by God through Charity, but not because of the corruption due to Original Sin, which makes us selfish and self centered. Rather Charity turns us away from being self centered since Charity is centered on God, not us. So one of the first things that Charity does, the more perfect you become in Charity, the more you turn away from yourself, and you turn towards God and Him alone. This is why I keep telling you that you have to have detachment from self. It is the Sine Qua Non as we say in Latin; it is that without which you simply cannot have perfect Charity, if you don't detach yourself from yourself. As long as you're hung up on yourself, you will never love God perfectly, and you’re never going to be happy because for us, our happiness ultimately consists in seeing (God) face to face, of course. But then once we see Him face to face, and we realize that He is good in absolutely every respect, we cannot help but love Him. And it's that inability to say no to God in the face of Him and and seeing Him and just, you know, totally giving ourselves to Him and that's what happiness consists in.
Fr. Ripperger 21:12
When we love God through Charity, we take care of our bodies, not for their own sake, but insofar as we love God to Whom we give glory by the reasonable care of our bodies, because God wants us to take reasonable care of our health.
Fr. Ripperger 21:24
We ought to love sinners as they are capable of eternal beatitude because they could be our friends in heaven. This is why you will good for them. That's why you will good for other people. This is why anger is so disordered, because by anger you want to inflict evil and harm on people, whereas Charity doesn't do that. Charity rather seeks the good of the individual hoping they'll get to heaven and then as a result, they can be my friend. But we must hate their sin since sin itself merits hate. It’s disordered and it's contrary to God so we should hate it.
Fr. Ripperger 21:54
What of evil people? St. Thomas asks the question in the Summa, he says that evil people estimate themselves principally in terms of their body and sensitive nature, that is the exterior man. So they worry about things, how they look, what they own, and things like that, rather than the way they should. They do not know or love themselves truly. Good people love themselves truly since they judge themselves according to the interior man who seeks spiritual spiritual goods; and by interior man, we mean a person who seeks virtue, who seeks to be holy, who seeks to do the right thing to make himself perfect. That's the interior man, not physically perfect, but interiorly perfect so that every faculty, every part of the soul, is a magnificent manifestation of God's glory.
Fr. Ripperger 22:43
Evil people do not seek the integrity of the interior man or the spiritual goods and so evil people do not love themselves properly and that is, they don't love themselves through Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 22:54
Christ also commanded us to love our enemies. This, likewise is often misunderstood. We do not love our enemies insofar as they are enemies as I mentioned. And there are some times in which the exterior signs of Charity must be exhibited, or extended only to some and sometimes they are extended to all. As to the exterior signs of Charity, by exterior signs we mean if I'm charitable I’ll manifest the Charity to them in some way. For those to whom we are to extend certain effects of Charity, there are effects of Charity that we have to extend to everybody regardless of who they are. For example, we have to pray for everybody and we have to offer up our sufferings for their salvation. And this also applies for our enemy, we have to do it for everyone. So when we see our enemy doing something against us, we should be in the habit of praying for them. And when we see their defect that's not a sign to say, “Oh, it's time to pick on this person and show how bad they are and to gloat how wonderful you are”, it is the moment which God is revealing to you the person's defect, so that through Charity, you will pray and do something for them so that they can overcome that imperfection.
Fr. Ripperger 23:57
At times, however, things are a little bit different. As to particular persons, some signs or manifestations of love, should or should not be extended to them. For example, while one ought to love one's enemy for the sake of God, it does not mean that you invite them into your houses where they can cause you harm or your children harm. What is indicated here is that Charity is not divorced from supernatural prudence, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our enemies or sinners. At times, the most charitable thing that can happen to a sinner is to be cut off from certain effects or manifestations of Charity so that he comes to his senses about his sinful state. Extending certain effects of Charity may confirm him in his sin and thereby do harm. So if we show some form of love to somebody that's not suited to them and then they think, “Oh, I’m okay then,” and they're not.
Fr. Ripperger 24:48
From this we understand that Charity does not mean merely being nice. Rather, niceness is the effect of Charity which is extended to people based on a prudential judgment. You recognize that there are certain circumstances where you ought to be kind and nice to people and there are certain times when you're not so kind and nice, and you shouldn't be. This avoids the spirit of falsity, which we find in certain people who are always nice, even when the niceness is out of place, or even false. Now, this is an important lesson for modern Catholics as they often think that Charity means being nice. And so public discourse around these people is reduced to a shallowness of a simulation. Simulation is the sin in which one performs exterior actions in order to deceive people. So you're nice to people when you shouldn't be and it’s deceptive. Lying is when we say false things, but simulation is when we do false things. So there's actions that we can perform that are also false. Charity never has any part of this. So we ought not to be nice in a false manner. Often the niceties are governed by a sensitive appetite or emotion, rather than a true love of God which seeks what will bring the person closer to God. Sometimes being nice to people actually confirms them in their disorder, and it drives them farther away from God.
Fr. Ripperger 26:14
And on the other hand again, supernatural prudence sometimes looks at people and recognizes, you know, this person, even though they're angry and they're manifesting this... the person really needs a certain amount of Charity and a certain amount of kindness and then they'll respond, but it's based on supernatural prudence. You have to read the circumstances as they are.
Fr. Ripperger 26:36
I sometimes tell the seminarians, you know, always be wary of the person who says, “be nice, be nice.” Well, normally, we should be kind and we should be nice, because it is a manifestation of Charity. Most people, we should extend our Charity to them, the effects of our Charity to them. But to the people who are always insisting you be nice, even to the people who you shouldn't be nice to, I'm always nervous around those people, because as I mentioned before, it's based on emotion and because it's based on emotion, the minute they start telling you to be nice, look for the knife in your back. Because the minute you don't fulfill their appetites, because their niceties are based on appetites and emotion, the minute you don't fulfill something they want, they'll go after you. So that means you have to be charitable to these people in a proper way. That doesn't mean you're not nice to them. Particularly, it just means that your niceness and your kindness that flows from Charity has to be governed by who the people are, the circumstances, is it proper, and does it fit? So we have to make sure that the kindness that we have brings people closer to God, not drives then farther away from God. On the other hand, that shouldn't give you an excuse to always be mean and snapping at people because that's obviously a manifestation of a lack of Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 27:39
So if we love everyone out of Charity, should we love one person more than another through Charity? The overall hierarchy of Charity, that is who do we love more? Are we supposed to love all of our neighbors equally? Well, insofar as we have them in relationship to God, we love everybody equally, in a certain sense, because we should be loving God, totally and so we should love each person so far as they're like God. However, St. Thomas says that the manifestation, or how much we're supposed to love a person based on Charity is based upon a hierarchy and that hierarchy is based upon two things: 1.) a person's relationship to God. So that is how close the person is to God. So in one sense, we should love Our Lady more than anybody that's living today. 2.) And there's another principle and that's the person's proximity to oneself. So those who are closer to me, I'm supposed to manifest and love through Charity to them more than other people. Since God is the cause of eternal Beatitude, He is to be beloved above all. God is also the perspective or reason for loving everyone else, and therefore God is to be loved prior to our neighbor, we love God before we love anyone else. We must love ourselves spiritually, St. Thomas says, more than our neighbor, because one ought to love one's own spiritual good above the good of others. This is why I always tell people that your primary obligation is to save your own soul first. You have to save your own soul first and then the other person is on their own. That's their responsibility and their obligation. But it also means that we have to tend to our own spiritual needs first before we tend to anyone else's spiritually needs. But if we don't have our own spiritual life in order, we're simply not going to be able to help anyone else. So we have to love ourselves personally, that is our spiritual good above our neighbor’s spiritual good.
Fr. Ripperger 29:39
Charity directs us to eternal beatitude, and so the order of Charity dictates that we love our own spiritual good above the good of others, since we cannot attain our own personal beatitude unless we love ourselves by means of Charity. So in other words, if I don’t love myself from the point of view of God, that is willing myself to be with God, will myself for the sake of God, I can't be saved. Exceptions are found in very rare circumstances. But it also means that at the moment of your death, you're either going to love God, or you're not. And that's really what it comes down to.
Fr. Ripperger 30:18
It is also more natural to love our own spiritual good above our neighbors good and since Charity never goes contrary to the order nature, it is only fitting that Charity would dictate that we love ourselves spiritually, first. We are never to commit sin, as I mentioned, so that our neighbor could avoid it. We ought to love our neighbors spiritual good over our own bodily good, since his spiritual good is greater than our bodily good. This is why saints will sacrifice their own bodily well-being for the sake of someone else's soul.
Fr. Ripperger 30:51
There are different kinds of neighbors. Okay, so we've got the hierarchy in relationship to ourselves. First we love God. Then we love ourselves spiritually, our neighbor spiritually, our physical bodies, and then their bodies (our neighbors bodies). Okay, so we got that part and then in relationship to our neighbor, even they are in a hierarchy.
Fr. Ripperger 31:08
Because there's different kinds of neighbors. St. Thomas addresses the different kinds of neighbors and how we ought to love them. Among our neighbors, which one has to be loved is based upon the proximity of the neighbor to oneself. Therefore, the first of those to be loved are those within whom one shares blood relations; that is, the closest to us are our family. Those are the first people that we have the obligation to extend the Charity to. This is why they say Charity begins at home. Some people will treat their parents, sons, daughters, husbands and wives terribly. But they will be nice and charitable to complete strangers. This is disordered.
Fr. Ripperger 31:46
The proper act of Charity is love. Not just any kind of love, but a supernatural love; that is, a love of God. Charity not only includes benevolence, that is, willing the good of another so we will God's good; that is we will His good in the created order so that it becomes more manifest. But, love which seeks union with the beloved... God is love for His own sake. And we can love God for the goods which He gives us but even the goods must be referred back to God. If we stop at the goods, the spiritual gifts that he gives us, then those become our end rather than God Himself and this is always the danger of seeking after the spiritual consolations. If we love the gift, then we offend God by loving something less than Him, more than than Him. In other words, if we we really only get into relationship with God, because we get these little spiritual consolations, then we end up offending God because we really value and cherish these spiritual consolations more than Him, when He is far more lovable by nature.
Fr. Ripperger 32:48
With respect to God, we must love the giver and only love the gift insofar as we see in it, the goodness of God or God Himself, for Whom we seek. We must also realize that the gifts which God give us are given in order to draw us closer to Him and so we must view them as a motivation to spur us on closer to Him. When we receive a spiritual consolation, we use that as a means not to become focused on the consolation, “Oh, isn't this wonderful?”, but to motivate us and to spur us on to a greater love of God. So we should use it and turn to God.
Fr. Ripperger 32:48
Whenever we have a love for created thing, that is something God gives us, It takes up a certain amount of place in our heart because our hearts are finite in size. And so it takes up a certain place in it. But God is a jealous God, in that He wants nothing before Him. “You’ll have no gods before me, not even yourselves.” Essentially, this means that any created thing should not be loved for its own sake, but only for the sake of God. This is why we must perfectly be detached from every created thing. Since being detached from something means one’s affections do not rest in that thing or things. When we are attached to God alone, we will love Him alone. We will love our neighbor For God's sake and therefore we will love our neighbor in a greater way than if we love him or are attached to him in a created manner; That is, if we have some attachment to him because of some creative benefit we get from him or because we just love the person on a purely natural level... then we don't love them as perfectly as if we loved them purely for the sake of God. If we do this, if we only love our neighbor purely for the sake of God, God will take the full place in our heart which He wants.
Fr. Ripperger 33:21
It is more meritorious in itself to love our neighbor than our enemy but it is more manifest a perfect Charity to extend the love of God to our enemies. While love of God is greater than love of neighbor, nevertheless, the love of God alone is imperfect if excludes our neighbor, since our neighbor ought to be loved for the sake of God. Therefore, to love both God and neighbor is perfect.
Fr. Ripperger 34:55
This is important since many who claim that they love God hate their neighbor, because their passions are disordered and they have a hard time loving their neighbor. They often feel justified in hating their neighbor because they see the defects in him. Well we all have defects. So in a certain sense, we can all be an object of hatred, if we allow ourselves to do that.
Fr. Ripperger 35:13
However, this is a sign of imperfection. For how can one love God and hate his image? God said in the Old Testament, “Let Us make him in our own image.” It is like a man who claims he loves his wife but hates the pictures of her. It doesn’t make any sense.
Fr. Ripperger 35:31
So to recap, Charity is a virtue which God infuses in our souls which makes it possible for us to love God. Since this in itself is not possible to us by nature and the virtue by which we love ourselves and our neighbor, for the sake of God can only be Charity. It should only be Charity. We can only love God rightly through Charity, when we have right Faith, otherwise we will offend God. This is one of the reasons why I always tell people, “right belief is exceptionally important.” Why?
Fr. Ripperger 36:04
Because if we don't love God in the right way, we're going to end up offending Him because as I mentioned last night, we're pretty stupid and we're very inclined to doing things that will offend Him if we’re not careful. Sometimes God has mercy on us, again because we're stupid, but that doesn't mean that objectively, it's not offensive to Him. It just means that He doesn't impute it to us because we're not too bright. But in the end, what this means is that heresy always destroys Charity, always.
Fr. Ripperger 36:33
This is why the magisterium must be vigilant regarding the Faith of the members of the Church, so that their Faith is protected and Charity will reign. You cannot... if you if you through an act of heresy destroy the virtue of Faith..... well, if you do it volitionally, you commit a mortal sin and so you also destroy Charity. But even if you don't do it volitionally, you just kind of fall into material heresy. You can end up really destroying Charity because heresy always tends to not make us understand how we're supposed to relate to God. St. Thomas says that prudence is the virtue by which we know the end and in this case, it would be God and we also know how the circumstances of our actions would fit in achieving the end. Well, if you have a different end, and that is, if you falsely believe things about God, then you're not going to achieve Him Who is the end in a means that’s proportionate. Why?
Fr. Ripperger 37:27
For instance, if I have two different ends, New York and San Francisco, I don't use the same means to get to both of them. I have to use different means. But at the same time, if I get in a car and I start driving, west, I can't say, “I'm going to New York”, it doesn't work that way. I mean, I might think I am. And I might be smug and feeling that I am. But the fact of the matter is, I'm heading towards San Francisco and not New York. It's the same way with God, if I don't employ the right means, that is, if I’m not charitable in the right way... that is, if I don't act in the right way in relationship to God because I'm erroneous in my belief, I'm not going to end up with God, I'm gonna end up somewhere else. Now, sometimes God will have mercy on us if the if our error is due to no fault of our own and we haven't committed any mortal sin in the process, then He will kind of let us off the hook. But it still means that our trajectory objectively is away from God and we have to be very careful about that.
Fr. Ripperger 37:28
Sins against charity. The first is hatred of God. This is the effect of lust, St. Thomas says and we're seeing it in the media who clearly have a distaste and hatred for anything supernatural. Willful, rebellious thoughts against God are also a sign of this. St. Thomas says, you know, and the seminarians get a certain degree of humor out of it because St. Thomas, every time we go into the Summa and we're dealing with a specific sin, it says.... “is this the worst sin? Is this the worst sin? Is this the worst sin?” He (St. Thomas) finally gets to hatred of God and he says, “Yea, this is the worst sin.” It’s the worst sin because not as to its effect because final impenitence is the worst sin in concern to its effect because it damns us. But it's the worst sin in itself, because God is the most infinitely lovable thing there is and to hate Him, is the most disordered thing that we can do.
Fr. Ripperger 39:18
The next is another kind of sin against Charity is hatred of our neighbor. If we hate our neighbor, again, we're hating God's image and so we cannot be acting in Charity. It's against Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 39:28
Spiritual Sloth, and you heard me talk a little bit about that last night. And again, this is an unwillingness to be separated from pleasure, or the complacency that we have in just doing nothing. In order to pursue the arduous, the life of Charity is very difficult but the more we purify ourselves, and the more we make acts of Charity, the more charitable we become, and the more we burn with Charity, then the more we won't have anything to do with spiritual sloth. At anytime any opportunity comes along to spiritually advance, we will grab onto it because we recognize this is going to get me closer to God because we love Him. In Other words, the more you love God, the less slothful you're going to be, but the more slothful you are, that tells you a little bit about where your Charity is. Because what it really means is, is that, “No. God, what I really prefer is this sitting here being complacent, flipping through TV than You and talking to You through prayer.”
Fr. Ripperger 40:17
The next is Envy. Envy is when we have sorrow in another person's goods. It’s a fact, you know, they say all men are created equal and then of course, you read “Animal Farm” which says, you know, “some pigs are more equal than others.” Well the fact of the matter is that He (God) doesn't create us all equal. We’re all equal in the order of nature. We all have human nature and that means we're all equal on that level. And that's why all of us can attain heaven. But the fact of the matter is, is that God gives each one of us different spiritual goods, because when the angels fell from heaven, there became gaps in the hierarchy of grace, because the angels who were supposed to take up a hierarchy of grace were lost. So God created man, in order to fill the hierarchy of grace back up and that means that He simply intends some people to be higher in heaven than others. And spiritual envy is the one that hates that, that hates the other person’s spiritual good, because they lack it. And this is evil, because it's a sin against the Holy Ghost. We should love and appreciate what the Holy Ghost is doing in other people and see it's a wonderful manifestation of God, not hate the manifestations of God in other people.
Fr. Ripperger 41:33
So what does this mean? You know, St. Paul says, run, run to, you know, achieve the prize to capture the prize. And what he's saying by that is that you have to do everything in your life to attain the level of heaven that God had intended for you. If you were supposed to be higher than you actually attained, then guess what? God creates somebody else and they get your place. So you have to try and achieve the highest place that you can. And God gives each person different Grace's through life.... that’s why some people are more holy than others. That’s one of the reasons, but one of the other reasons is that some people just respond more, they are more faithful to God's grace than others. That's why you have to be perfectly faithful to His grace, and then you'll take the place in heaven that He has intended for you.
Fr. Ripperger 42:16
Another sin against Charity is discord. Discord is when, in one's heart one does not want to get along with people. You see this, some people are just contentious, they just don't want to get along with people.
Fr. Ripperger 42:26
And another one is contention itself. Now contention is arguing with people exteriorly. So you see with some people and I call them contrarians, it doesn't matter what you say, “No, no, no.” They are always arguing against you. And this is the vice of contention. And that's against Charity because Charity wants us all to get along. But, it wants us all to get along in the right way. You know, you hear this, “Why can't we all just get along?” Well, the reason we can't all get along is called original sin. We’re all disordered.
Fr. Ripperger 42:55
Charity recognizes that our common ground, the thing which we can have in common, in which we can all love and love together, and therefore have concord and come together is God and only God. Today we're trying to make it man. I'm sorry, but man isn't enough. Neither for our wills, because we want more than what man can provide and it's not enough as far as our beatitude goes. The more we try and put our end in man, the unhappier we are becoming. It’s very clear. The less people love God, the less happy they are. You can just look in the news media to see people who are miserable and it’s because the more materialistic they get, the more hung up they get in this world, the simply unhappier they are.
Fr. Ripperger 43:38
Another one is quarreling. And also the Church says schism is a sin against Charity because one cuts himself off from the Church, which is the actual abode of Charity. The Church is the home of Charity because all grace comes into the world by means of the Catholic Church. And that doesn't mean that Protestants can’t be saved. That’s not what I’m saying. It just means that if a Protestant is saved, they’re saved by the means of the Catholic Church. And this is what the Church’s traditional teaching always was, so that even when Protestants are saved, their religions are inefficacious. There's only One Religion that God's established and said, “This is it. If you do this, then you’re fine.” And that's the Catholic religion. Again, that doesn't mean non Catholics can’t be saved. It just means if they're saved, they're saved by the efficacious means of the Catholic Church. But schism cuts us off from the means of sanctifying grace and sanctifying grace is the foundation for common life and it’s the foundation for Charity. And so as a result, that's a sin against Charity to cut yourself off from this, and to, you know, cut yourself off from from people because you don't want to be part of the Church.
Fr. Ripperger 44:47
War. Here we're not talking about Just Wars, because sometimes, if you know the neighbor is unjustly attacking you, then you've got to wage war against them to get them away from you. But if we unjustly declare war, it is a sin against Charity. Now, sometimes it's not real clear whether we should or not, but the point is, is that if we intentionally wage war against somebody, without a sufficient reason, that’s a sin against Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 45:13
Scandal. Scandal is a sin against Charity because it ends up blocking people's attainment to God because they get hung up on the disorders that they see in other people.
Fr. Ripperger 45:24
Not making an act of Charity on regular intervals during one’s life, especially during times of necessity. It's called the sin of negligence. That's a sin against Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 45:34
Egoism. Egoism is making oneself the end of everything, in which one only cares about himself praises himself, enjoys receiving praise and things of this sort. Now, you can enjoy receiving praise if you recognize, “yes, I should be praised for this, because God is working this through me.” If the reference is back to God, it's fine. If we want it for ourselves, then it's not really according to Charity, because we realize that no good that we have is good except insofar as it comes from God. God is the source of all good, therefore any good that I have, what little I have, ultimately comes from God. He's the one who causes it. So I should always refer it back to Him because ultimately, He’s the one responsible for me having it.
Fr. Ripperger 46:17
Boasting of sin, or violating God's law, or making good works out of human respect is a sin against Charity. If you really love God, you're going to do what's right, come what may.
Fr. Ripperger 46:28
Disordered Anger. Now there is a rightly ordered anger and that's when the anger is moderated and it is based upon the thing and it seeks the person's good, not their harm. However, disordered anger seeks to inflict harm on people.
Fr. Ripperger 46:43
So how do we increase Charity? Well, first by making frequent acts of Charity, tell God that you love Him. That's one of the principal ways that you can do it. And even if you don't feel like it, it doesn't matter. If you're in the state of grace, and you say, “I love you, God”, that is a supernatural act of love, and you keep doing it, and then moreover, you'll get a greater habit from it.
Fr. Ripperger 47:04
You can use those formal prayers, which I mentioned that are in manuals, those are very useful in increasing Charity because it kind of gives you an idea of how we're supposed to pray to God.
Fr. Ripperger 47:14
You can also recognize the fact that prayer moves us towards union with God. So one of the principal ways to increase Charity is by developing your prayer life. If you're not praying, that’s also a sign that you don't love God that much. Again, if you really love God, you always want to spend time in His company. If you don't love Him that much Well, you can do without His company for a while.
Fr. Ripperger 47:36
Avoid the media which is constantly ruining everyone's Charity, or exciting things like lust, or sins against God or hatred or things of this sort, pitting people against each other.
Fr. Ripperger 47:46
Do prayer of suffering and good works, offer it up to the intentions of an increase in Charity, like with the other Theological Virtues.
Fr. Ripperger 47:51
Performing actions for people out of love of God, even if it’s difficult is one of the most direct ways of attaining perfect Charity. An example is when you do something for people even though you may not like them, or you find them difficult.
Fr. Ripperger 48:12
Mortification. Mortification takes away obstacles in our faculty, that is, it takes away our imperfections and purged us and so Charity can operate more.
Fr. Ripperger 48:18
Practicing self denial and ordering all things to God, always doing everything for the sake of God.
Fr. Ripperger 48:24
Making morning offerings to direct your life to God and do things out of a motivation for God rather than for self.
Fr. Ripperger 48:30
As I mentioned last night, stop sinning. One of the principal ways that you grow in holiness is that you have to stop sinning. If you're going to be holy, and you're going to have Charity, you have to stop sinning, even venial sin, you have to stop it. So break your attachment to it.
Fr. Ripperger 48:51
You can foster devotion to the Immaculate of Heart of Mary, who is the Mother of Divine Grace. Now remember, sanctifying grace is the foundation for common Beatitude and She is the Mother of Divine Grace. She actually had in her womb, Grace itself. St. Thomas makes a distinction between what he calls uncreated grace. Grace is a certain pleasing or a favor that we see in relationship to somebody or some good, God Himself, Who is goodness itself is that which is lovable and favorable in itself. So God is uncreated grace and she had uncreated grace, remember she is the Mother of Divine Grace. But she also had Christ Who is also full of grace, His soul is perfect. It has the maximum amount of grace that human nature could attain. Even more than our lady. When we hear things like, “Our Lady is full of grace”, I don't want to get too much into that, but Christ was even Fuller. So her being the Mother of Divine Grace is a marvelous thing to contemplate and she is our perfect exemplar in Charity. During her entire life, she grew in holiness, and she grew in perfect virtue, so that at every turn her Charity increased.
Fr. Ripperger 50:10
Then we can foster devotion to the Sacred Heart. Remember that God loves Himself and the other for His sake. And so we become like God, if we love God for His sake, and we love others for the sake of God. And we also become like Christ’s Sacred Heart, because Christ’s Sacred Heart had perfect Charity. Why? Because He loved God, absolutely in His human will, which is what we call the heart. And yet, He loved us, purely for the sake of God and so His Charity was absolutely perfect. And we become like Christ.....This is one of the reasons why you say the prayer, you know, to Christ, “make our heart like on to Thine”, so that we will emulate and become just like You. Christ did not have Faith. Remember, we talked about that. He didn't have Hope either. The reason that He didn't have Hope is because Hope is to attain a future good. Well what’s the future good? The beatific vision. He already had the beatific vision, so He didn't have to look forward for something in the future. So He didn't have Hope in relationship to Himself. He did have hope for us, of course, but He didn't have the Virtue of Hope. He didn’t have Faith or Hope but He did have perfect Charity.
Fr. Ripperger 51:35
The Heart of Jesus. We read in the Litany, “Heart of Jesus Burning Furnace of Charity.” Everything Christ did and does for us is out of Charity. Contemplating Christ's passion shows us how benevolent and benign Christ is. Benignity is the virtue in which you do good things for people. It's not enough, just to will it, which is benevolence. You have to do it. And Christ’s will was so burning with Charity, it didn't matter what suffering He was going to have to go through, He would lay down his life, even for a single individual, if that's what it took. He loved us so much that He went through what He did and for Him, in relationship to the consideration of His Charity, it was as if nothing.
Fr. Ripperger 52:17
Those who excel in Charity would find themselves burning with Charity, and love of God. St. John of the Cross called this the living flame of love, where if you haven't reached it, it's going to be a bit difficult to understand. But when a person reaches a certain level of holiness, there is an interior burning. It’s very difficult to describe. The burning leaves a kind of joy, a certain happiness about it, but it just sits there in burns. And what it does is, that burning means that it's inclining you towards God. It makes you more desirous of God and to see His will manifest. The more you purify yourself of sin, the more Charity will begin to burn in you. And you actually experience, it's not a feeling, because it's not a bodily thing, even though it does leak down to the body a bit. But it's something in your will and something in your soul, it just burns. That's what you have to attain.
Fr. Ripperger 53:16
“Heart of Jesus full of goodness and love”. Christ loves you. But he wants you to be purified. But also because He loves you, He’s going to do whatever it takes to give you everything necessary for you to save your soul. You know, the Church formally teaches that God gives every person in the world sufficient grace to be saved. Everybody, even the guy in Tibet, who's never even heard of Christ, Christ gives everybody sufficient grace to be saved. It doesn't mean that it's going to come on your deathbed. As I've mentioned before, it's not going to come on your deathbed, necessarily, He may give it to you in an early point in your life, and you're supposed to remain faithful to that grace. But it means that Christ will always give everybody enough grace to be saved, because He loves us. He wants us to be saved. He's not there to, you know, to toast us and everything that we do wrong. He's really there because He wants to draw us to Himself, because He loves us.
Fr. Ripperger 54:11
“Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts”. Those who have perfect Charity desire to be ruled by Christ, they want to be totally dominated by Him, and find themselves totally giving their heart to Him. They just don't even want it (their heart) for themselves, they want Christ in this life just to take it from them so they don't mess it up.
Fr. Ripperger 54:33
“Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.” They wish to be transformed in Christ, to lose themselves in Christ. Contrary to the modern notion which says that the problem with the saints is that they focus too much on God and not themselves. I've actually read that in a noted author. When I read that I was almost blown out of my seat. I couldn't believe it because this guy was a faithful Catholic. When in point and fact, the whole point of the whole magnificence of the medieval period and the end of medieval period when mysticism had taken over and there was St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and the like was that they manifested the fact that the person at a stage of perfection is totally consumed in God and totally forgets themself. And this is rightly ordered. Immanentism, which always makes ourselves the principal of judgment utterly destroys Charity, because we love everything for our sake and not for God's which is contrary to love of God.
Fr. Ripperger 55:28
“Heart of Jesus, delight of all the Saints.” If we try and be holy, and if we have perfect Charity, the will of Christ, which I mentioned, which is the instrument of our salvation, will bring us no end of delight. In the end, Charity makes us to have union with God and that union with God is the beatific vision in which we will have a never ending delight in God. That's what your goal is. If you want to be perfect, if you want to be happy, you must perfect Charity.
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