Caritas: Is that Mexican Food?

I’ve got a funny word in the name of my blog. The word is caritas. It’s a Latin word for love (some may be more familiar with the Greek loan-word agape). But not just any sort of love. Caritas is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas,”the friendship of man for God,” which “unites us to God.” He goes on to say,”the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God, but also to the love of our neighbor.” [1]

Caritas is also spoken about my St. Paul. In the thirteenth chapter his first letter to the Corinthians (I’m going to quote him in his entirety; it’s just that good!),”If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

The italicized portion of that quotation from scripture is often used at weddings. I love this particular use of this passage from scripture because it is so appropriate based on the context (both in which it was written and in which it is being read). When a man and woman are getting married, they are committing to an act of “caritas-type” love. They are committing to love each other for the sake of God and for the sake of one another. They give themselves to one another in this act of caritas. The aren’t, it’s worth noting, committing to an “eros-type” love. Eros is that sensual, passionate, sometimes illogical love (“love at first sight”). It’s great if it lasts, but it’s not the foundation for or the basis of a marriage.

Digressing from marriage, caritas is the type of love that Christians are called to live out in their daily lives for all people. “‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,'” (John 13:34-35). If we are to live as Christ called us, we are to love as God loves us. We are to will the good of others and treat them in such a way that this is manifest. We are called to rebuke our brothers and sisters with Caritas when they are walking down a pathway to destruction. (“‘Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few,'” (Matthew 7:13-14). Many are they who will try to go down the easy path of destruction, and if we love them, we cannot allow for their destruction.)

So it comes down to this: Love one another like God loves you. He loves you too much to leave you a sinner [2]. So we should love one another enough not to permit another’s sins.

So, harkening back to the first post: I still love you.

1.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3025.htm

2.

A good example is this: A young child has something dangerous (a knife, a poisonous chemical, etc.). The parents sees the child with said dangerous thing. The parent takes the dangerous thing from the child to protect it from harm. This is lie God with a sinner, but less direct. He sees the danger of sin and has instructed us of this danger. He expects his Body (1 Corinthians 12), his representatives on earth, to help to take away the dangerous sin from his children.

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2 thoughts on “Caritas: Is that Mexican Food?

  1. Pingback: It All Happened So Fast!

  2. Pingback: Contagious Caritas | Dealing with Something That Might Not Really Be Fully Understood Ever

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