THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER 13

DO NOT LET YOUR LEFT HAND KNOW WHAT YOUR RIGHT HAND IS DOING

Do good without ostentation. - Hidden misfortune. - The widow's mite. - To invite the poor and the lame. To give without thought of recompense. - INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Material charity and moral charity. - Beneficence. - Compassion. - Orphans. - Beneficence recompensed by ingratitude. - Exclusive benevolence.


DO GOOD WITHOUT OSTENTATION


1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew, 6: 1-4).

2. When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand and touched him, saying, I will: Be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for the testimony unto them (Matthew, 8:1-4).

3. There is great merit in doing good without ostentation. But it is of even greater merit to hide the hand that gives. This is the indisputable mark of great moral superiority, since in order to regard things from a higher level than the multitude it is necessary to be able to disregard the present life, and identify oneself with the future. In a word, to place oneself above humanity so as to be able to renounce the satisfaction that comes from the recognition of one's fellow creatures, and await the approval of God. Those who prefer the approval of mankind prove they put more faith in them than in God, and value the present life more than the future one. If they say anything to the contrary, then they act as if they do not believe in what they themselves are saying.
How many there are who only give with the expectancy that the one who has received will shout it to all sides! How many there are who publicly give large sums of money, but who nevertheless would not give a penny if the fact were to be hidden! This is why Jesus declared: "Those who do good ostensibly have already received their recompense." Indeed, those who seek their glorification on Earth through the good they do, have already paid themselves; God owes them nothing more; the only thing left is punishment for their pride.

Let not your right hand know what your left hand does is an image which admirably characterizes modest beneficence. But if there is true modesty, then there is also false modesty, a mere imitation of modesty. There are certain people who hide the hand that gives, but take great care to leave a small piece showing while they look about them to see if anyone has seen them trying to hide it. This is shameful, a parody of Christ's maxim! If prideful benefactors are despised by mankind, what then must they be before God? These too have already received their recompense on Earth. They are seen and are satisfied by this fact. That is all they will have.

So then, what recompense will there be for the person who causes their benefits to weigh heavily on the shoulders of the receiver; who demands at all costs recognition for the recompense; who makes their position felt by extolling the cost of the sacrifice they have made? Oh! Here there is not even earthly recompense, seeing that this person finds themself deprived of the pleasing satisfaction of hearing their name blessed. This is the first punishment for their pride. The tears they dried in benefit of their own pride, instead of rising to Heaven will fall back upon the afflicted heart and cause it to ulcerate. For the good that was practised there will be no reward because it was deplored, and all benefit that is deplored is counterfeit and so has no value.

When beneficence is practised without ostentation it is doubly meritorious. Apart from material charity there is also moral charity, seeing that this protects the susceptibility of the beneficiary, so enabling them to receive a benefit without feeling resentment from a loss of self- respect. This safeguards human dignity, since there are those who will accept a job but refuse alms. Now depending on the manner in which it is done, converting work into alms can mean humiliating the receiver, and there is always pride and evil in the act of humiliating another. On the other hand, true charity is delicate and inventive in disguising a benefit, avoiding even a simple appearance which might cause hurt, given that all moral friction increases suffering originating from necessity. Therefore the giver of true charity will find tender affectionate words which will place the receiver at ease, especially in the presence of the benefactor, whereas prideful charity will crush the receiver. Real generosity acquires total sublimity when the benefactor, inverting the parts, finds a way of placing themself in the position of being the one who is indebted when facing the person whom they are helping. This is what is meant by the words: Let not your left hand know what your right hand does.

HIDDEN MISFORTUNES


4. When great calamities occur charity is filled with emotion, and generous impulses are seen on all sides in the repairing of these disasters. But apart from these general disasters, there are millions of private catastrophes which go unnoticed, for there are those who lie on beds of suffering without complaining. These discreet and hidden misfortunes are the ones which true generosity knows how to discover without even waiting to be asked for help.

Who is that woman with the distinctive air, simply dressed, although well cared for, who is accompanied by an equally modestly dressed young girl? They enter a sordid looking house where the lady is obviously well-known because they are greeted with respect as they enter. Where is she going? Up to the garret where a mother lies surrounded by her many children. On their arrival happiness bursts forth upon the thin faces. This is because the woman has come to soothe their pains. She has brought everything they need, tempered with gentle and consoling words which allows her protégés, who are not professional beggars, to accept these benefits without blushing. The father is in hospital and while he is there the mother is unable to provide the necessities of life with her work. By the grace of this good woman these poor children will no longer feel cold nor hungry; they will go to school well-clothed and, for the smaller ones, the mother's breasts which feed them will not go dry. If any member of this family falls sick, this good woman will not refuse the material care which they may need. From their house she will go on to the hospital to take the father some comforts and also to put his mind at rest as to his family. At the corner of the road a carriage awaits, and inside is a store of everything destined for her various protégés, for one after the other they all receive visits. She never asks what their religion is nor what their opinions are, because she considers them to be her brothers and sisters and the children of God, as are all men and women. When she has finished her rounds she can say to herself: "I have begun my day well." What is her name? Where does she come from? No one knows. To all those unhappy ones she has given a name which indicates nothing. But she is the personification of a consoling angel. Each night a host of blessings rise up to the heavens in her name from Catholics, Jews and Protestants alike.

Why such modest clothing? So as not to insult their misery with her luxury. Why does she take her daughter? So that she too may learn how to practise beneficence, for the young lady also wishes to be charitable. However, the mother says to her: "What can you give, my daughter, when you have nothing of your own? If I give you something of mine to give away, what merit will that be for you? In that case it is really I who am giving, so what good would that bring you? It would not be just. So when I visit the sick you will help me treat them. To offer care to someone is to give something of yourself. Do you not think that is sufficient to start with? Well then, nothing could be simpler; you can begin by learning how to make useful articles and clothes for the children.

In this manner you will be giving of yourself." When she is a true Christian, this is how a mother should prepare her children to practise those virtues which Christ taught. Is she a Spiritist? What does that matter!

In her own home she is a woman of the world because her position demands it of her. Those about her know nothing of what she is doing, as she does not wish for any approval other than that from God and her own conscience. However, one day an unexpected circumstance brought one of her protégés to her door, selling hand-made articles. When this woman saw her, she recognised her benefactor. The lady told her to be silent and “Tell no one!” Jesus also spoke in this manner.


THE WIDOW'S MITE


5. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites which make a farthing. And He called unto him His disciples and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast in more than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance: but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living (Mark, 12: 41-44).

And He looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And He said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hast cast in more than they all. For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had (Luke, 21:1-4).

6. Many people deplore the fact that they are unable to do all the good they desire due to lack of financial resources. They would like to be rich in order, so they say, to be able to make good use of those funds. Their intention no doubt is laudable and in some cases even sincere. However, in the vast majority is this desire totally disinterested? Will there not be those who, whilst wishing to do good to others, would also appreciate being able to begin by doing good to themselves, of being in a position to offer themselves a few more pleasures or the enjoyment of something superfluous they lack, after this then being quite ready to offer the poor what is left over? This second thought behind the desire, perchance concealed even from their own eyes, which they would have to face if they scrutinized the depths of their hearts, annuls all merit for the intention, seeing that true charity thinks of others before it thinks of itself. The sublimity of charity, in this case, would be for each one to seek within their work the necessary resources they lack to be able to realise their generous intentions, by means of employing their strength, intelligence and aptitudes. In so doing they would be offering the kind of sacrifice most pleasing to the Lord. Unhappily the majority live out their lives dreaming of ways and means of easily and quickly acquiring riches for themselves without any effort. By running after foolish fancies like the discovery of buried treasure, or some favourable random chance, or even the possibility of receiving an unexpected inheritance etc. What can be said then about those who expect to find spiritual helpers to second their attainment of these objectives? Certainly they know nothing at all nor do they understand the sacred finalities of Spiritism, and even less of the mission of the Spirits whom God permits to communicate with incarnate men. Hence it happens that they are punished by deceptions. (See THE MEDIUM'S BOOK, second part, items 294 & 295.)

Those whose intentions are totally exempt from personal interest must console themselves with the knowledge that it is impossible to do all the good that could be wished, and to remember the mite of the poor, taken from meagre resources which causes deprivation, but which weighs more on God's scales than the gold of the rich who give without depriving themselves of anything. The satisfaction of the former would truly be great if they could help all the destitute on a large scale. But if this is denied them, then they must submit to this fact and limit themselves to what is possible. Furthermore, can tears be dried only with money? Should we remain inactive because we have no money? All those who sincerely wish to be of use to their fellow beings will find thousands of ways of helping. If you look for them they will appear, if not in one way then in another, because there is no one who, having full command of their faculties, cannot help someone, offer consolation, minimise both physical and moral suffering or do something useful. While money may be lacking, do we all not have time, work and hours of repose to spare which we can offer to help others? This too is the alms of the poor, the widow's mite.


TO INVITE THE POOR AND THE LAME. TO GIVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF RECOMPENSE


7. Then said He also to him that bade Him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, he said unto Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God (Luke, 14:12-15).

8. Jesus tells us that when we prepare a feast we should not invite our friends and relations, but instead the poor and the maimed. In their literal sense these words appear to be absurd. But if we understand their spiritual essence they are in fact sublime. It is not possible that Jesus intended us to invite the maimed and beggars from the streets to unite round our table instead of friends. His language was almost always figurative as the people of those times were not capable of understanding delicate shades of thought. Therefore it was necessary for Him to use strong words which could produce colourful images. Nevertheless, the essence of His thought is revealed is this sentence: "And thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee." This means that we should not do good for a calculated reward, but only for the pleasure to be felt in so doing. Using a striking comparison, Jesus says: "Invite the poor to your feast because you know they cannot recompense you." By the use of the word 'feast' we should understand not the actual repast but a participation in the abundance generally enjoyed.

However, the warning can also be applied in a more literal sense. How many of you invite to your table only those who, as is said, will honour you or will return your invitation? On the other hand, there are others who find satisfaction in receiving friends and relations less fortunate than themselves. Well, how many amongst you have people like this in your family? In this way a great service can sometimes be done without it showing. These people put into practice the teachings of Jesus without recruiting the blind and the maimed only if they do so with benevolence, without ostentation, and if they know how to dissimulate the benefit by means of sincere cordiality.


INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS. MATERIAL CHARITY AND MORAL CHARITY


9. "Love one another and do unto others what we wish they would do unto us. All that is religion and moral is contained in these two precepts. If they were observed in this world then everyone would be happy and there would be no more hate or resentment. I go even further: there would be no more poverty because all the poor people would be fed from the superfluity of the rich. Neither would poor women be seen dragging wretched children along the dark and sombre streets where I lived during my last incarnation.

Those among you who are rich, think on this a while! Help to the best of your abilities all those who are less fortunate. Give, in order that one day God may recompense the good you have done; and so, on leaving your terrestrial body behind, you may encounter a host of grateful Spirits who will receive you at the threshold to a happier world. Oh! If you could but know the joy felt when, on reaching the world beyond, I found those whom I had been given to serve!..

Therefore, love your neighbours; love them as you would love yourself, because you now know that by repelling even one wretched person it is always possible that perhaps you are sending away a brother, father or friends from other times. If this happens to be the case, imagine your despair when you recognise them again on reaching the spiritual world!

I wish you to understand exactly what moral charity really is. It is something that all can practise, that costs nothing materially speaking, but which is most difficult to exercise. Moral charity then comprises the giving of support to all our fellow creatures and is least done in this inferior world where you now find yourselves incarnated. Believe me, there is great merit in keeping quiet while another, perhaps less intelligent, is speaking. This is but one kind of moral charity. To play deaf when mocking words escape the lips of one accustomed to deride, or to ignore the disdainful smiles of those who are receiving you, when they quite wrongly suppose themselves to be far above you, constitutes merit. However, in actual fact it will quite often be found that in the spiritual world, the only real life, these same persons are far below us. The merit to be gained in these situations is not due to humility, but to charity, in as much as to ignore bad behaviour is a moral charity.

Nevertheless, this kind of charity must not be allowed to interfere with the other kind already mentioned. Therefore, be specially careful never to despise your fellow beings. Remember everything I have told you, and that if you repel a poor or needy person you may perhaps be repelling a Spirit who was once dear to you, who temporarily finds him or herself in an inferior position to you. I have found here one of the destitute from Earth whom happily I had been able to help several times and from whom, in my turn, I must now implore help.

I remind you that Jesus said we are all brothers and sisters. Always think of this before repelling a beggar or even someone with a contagious disease, like leprosy. Goodbye; think of those who suffer and pray for them. - SISTER ROSALIE (Paris, 1860).

10. My dear friends, there are many amongst you whom I have heard saying: How can I practise charity if I am frequently without the necessities of life?

Friends, there are thousands of ways of practising charity. You may do this by means of thought, words and actions. With thought by praying for the unfortunate who have been abandoned, for those who die without even finding conditions to enable them to see the light A prayer from your heart will alleviate their suffering. Through words, by giving good advice to your daily companions, to those who are desperate and to all for whom privations have caused embitterment which has led them to blaspheme against God, by saying to them: "I was like you; I too suffered and felt myself wretched, but I believed in Spiritism and now I am happy." To those who are old and who say to you: "It is useless, now I am at the end of my journey. I will die as I have lived," you must say to them: "God shows equal justice to all; remember the workers of the last hour." To the children who are already corrupted by the companions who surround them, who go through life ready to succumb to evil temptations, you must say: "God is looking at you, my children," and never get tired of repeating these gentle words to them. One day they will germinate in these childlike minds, and instead of being vagabonds they will then become men and women. This too is charity.

Others amongst you may say: "Pooh! We are so numerous here on Earth that God cannot possibly see each one of us." Listen carefully, my friends. When you are on the top of a mountain do you not see the millions of grains of sand which cover it? Well then, that is how God sees you. He allows you your free-will, just as He permits the grains of sand to move with the winds which disperse them. Except for one thing, in His infinite mercy, God has put a vigilant spark in the bottom of your hearts which is called your conscience. Listen to it because it will give good advice. Sometimes you manage to numb it by setting the spirit of evil against it. Then it is silent. But you can be sure that as soon as you begin to have even a shadow of remorse, your poor rejected conscience will again make itself heard. So listen to it, ask it questions, and frequently you will find yourself consoled by the counsel you have received.

My friends, to every new regiment the general always offers a banner. To you I offer this maxim of Christ as your watchword: "Love one another." Observe this precept, let everyone unite under this flag, and you will have happiness and consolation. - A Protecting Spirit (Lyon, 1860).


BENEFICENCE


11. The act of beneficence in this world, my friends, gives you happiness of the heart, being the purest and sweetest delight, which neither remorse nor indifference can perturb. Oh! If only you could understand something of the greatness and enjoyment which encompasses the generosity of beauteous souls! It is a sentiment which makes people look at each other as they would look at themselves and gladly disrobe in order to clothe a fellow creature in need! If only you could have as your single occupation that of making others happy! What worldly feats can be compared to those celebrated when men and women, as Divine representatives, have taken happiness to families who have known only bitterness and vicissitudes; when they see mortified faces suddenly glow with hope because without any bread these unfortunate parents only heard their children, who were ignorant of the fact that to live is to suffer, crying out unceasingly with clenched fists the words which were as daggers penetrating the maternal hearts: "I'm hungry! . . ." Oh! You must understand then the joyous impressions of those who see happiness born again, where but a moment before there had been nothing but despair. You must understand the obligations that you owe to your brothers and sisters! Go! Go then to meet misfortune! Go and offer help! Offer help, especially against hidden miseries which are the most painful of all! Dearly beloved brethren, go remembering these words of our Saviour: "When you clothe any one of these little ones, remember it is Me that you clothe!"

Charity! That sublime word which synthesizes all the virtues, it is you who will conduct all peoples of the world towards happiness. It is only by the act of charity that infinite delights can be created for each one in the future. Yet even while you remain exiled on Earth, it will be your consolation, a foretaste of the joys to be possessed later when you find yourselves united in the bosom of the God of love. It was you, divine Virtue, that enabled me to experience the only moments of satisfaction I was to enjoy while on Earth. I hope my incarnate brothers and sisters on this planet will believe these amicable words when I say: It is within charity that you must seek peace of heart, contentment of the soul and the remedy for life's afflictions. Oh! When you are on the point of accusing God, first cast your eyes down and you will see all the miseries waiting to be alleviated, the poor children without families, the old without even a friendly hand to close their eyes when death claims them! How much good there is waiting to be done! Oh! Do not complain! On the contrary offer thanks to God and lavish handfuls of sympathy, understanding and money on all who, disinherited from wordly possessions, languish in suffering and isolation. You will reap sweet happiness in the world, and later... Only God knows!...

ADOLF, Bishop of Argel (Bordeaux, 1861).

12. To be good and charitable, that is the key to Heaven which you hold in your hands. The entirety of eternal happiness is contained in this maxim: Love one another. The soul cannot elevate itself to the high spiritual realms except by devotion to one's fellow creatures; it will not find happiness and consolation except in charitable impulses. Be good and sustain your brothers and sisters; root out that horrible ulcer known as selfishness. In fulfilling this duty, the pathway to eternal happiness should open up before you. Besides, who amongst you has not yet felt their heart beat with jubilation and inner joy at the narration of an act of wonderful dedication or some truly charitable work? If you only seek the pleasure to be felt from a good deed, then you will remain forever on the pathway to spiritual advancement. Good examples are not wanting; what is rare 5 simply goodwill. Take note that history keeps pious remembrance of a multitude of good men and women.

Did not Jesus tell you everything concerning the virtues of charity and love? Why then despise His divine teaching? Why do you close your ears to His divine words and your hearts to His kindly maxims? I would wish that you demonstrate more interest, and more faith, in the reading of the New Testament. However, as you despise this book, considering it to be a compilation of hollow words, a closed letter, this admirable code has been forgotten. All your ills stem from your voluntary abandonment of this resume of the Divine Laws. Read the scintillating pages of the devotion shown by Jesus and meditate upon them!

Those of you who are strong, prepare yourselves for battle. Those who are weak, make your gentleness and faith into your arms. Let us be more persuasive and more constant in the dissemination of your new doctrine. It is only so as to give you encouragement and to stimulate your zeal and your virtues that God has given permission for this manifestation. But if you so wished, God's help and your own free-will would be sufficient for all needs, because spiritual manifestations only produce themselves for those whose eyes are closed and those with troubled hearts.

Charity is the fundamental virtue upon which all earthly virtues are based. Without this virtue there would be no others. Without charity there would be no hope of a better life, no interest in a moral guide line. Without charity there is no faith, because faith is nothing more than pure luminosity which makes a charitable soul become brilliant with light. In all worlds charity is the eternal anchor of salvation, the purest emanation which comes direct from the Creator, part of His own virtue which He gives to all creatures. How then can we despise this supreme generosity? What heart knowing this, is so perverse as to suppress and expel this divine sentiment? What child of God is so evil as to rebel against this sweet caress, which is charity.

I do not presume to speak of what I did, because Spirits also have their modesty. Nevertheless, I believe that the work I began during my earthly life is the kind of work which will contribute most to the alleviation of our fellow beings. I frequently see Spirits who, having asked, are given the work of continuing my task as their mission in life. I see them, these generous and beloved brothers and sisters, in their pious and divine ministry, practising these virtues which I recommend with a joy that can only be derived from a life of dedication and sacrifice. It is my immeasurable good fortune to see how their condition is honoured, how they are protected and esteemed in the mission they perform. Therefore, fellow beings of good and strong will-power, unite yourselves so that you may continue the work of expanding the diffusion of charity. You will find your reward in the very exercise of this virtue, and there are no bounds as to the spiritual happiness which may be felt, even in the present life. So be united, and love one another according to the teachings of Christ. So be it! - SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (Paris, 1858).

13. They call me 'Charity'. I follow the principal path which leads to God. Accompany me, since I know the goal for all to aim at.

This morning I went on my habitual rounds, and now I come with great anguish in my heart to say to you: Oh! My friends! How many miseries and tears! How much must be done to dry all those tears and put to rights all those miseries! In vain I tried to console some of the poor mothers by whispering in their ears: Courage! There are good souls watching over you and you will not be abandoned, have patience! God exists! You are loved by Him, you are His chosen ones! They seemed to hear me and turned their startled eyes in my direction, and I could read from the appearance of their bodies, that terrible oppressor of the spirit, that they were hungry, and even if my words brought a little serenity to their hearts it was no comfort for their stomachs. I repeated: Courage! Courage! Then one poor mother, still very young and with a small child, held it up with outstretched arms, as if asking me for protection for that small creature, who found only insufficient nourishment in those sterile breasts.

Elsewhere my friends, I saw destitute old people who, being without work, found themselves without shelter and prey to all manner of sufferings and hardships. Being ashamed of their misery and never having begged, they found themselves lacking in courage to implore pity from passers by. With my heart bursting with compassion I, who possess nothing, have turned to begging for them, and so go from place to place in order to stimulate beneficence and inspire good thoughts in generous and compassionate hearts. This is why I am come here to tell you that hereabouts there are those who are wretched, in whose hovels is no bread, whose stoves are without heat and whose beds are without blankets. I do not tell you what you must do; I leave this initiative to your kindly hearts. If I were to tell you how to proceed, you would gain no credit for your good deeds. I say only that I am Charity and I extend my hands towards you through those of your suffering brothers and sisters.

But if I ask, I also give and give generously. I am inviting you to a great banquet wherein I will furnish a tree upon which all will be satiated! See how beautiful it is, how full of flowers and fruits! Go! Go! Gather all the fruits of this magnificent tree which is called beneficence. Then, in place of the foliage and fruit you have taken away, I will fasten to it all the good deeds you have practised. Then I will take this tree to God and He will load it again, in as much as beneficence is inexhaustible. Accompany me then, my friends, so that I may count you amongst those who follow my banner! Do not fear, for I will conduct you along the pathway to salvation for I am Charity - CARITA, martyred in Rome (Lyon, 1861).

14. There are various ways of practising charity, which many of you confuse with the giving of alms. However, there is considerable difference between the two. Alms, my friends, are useful sometimes because they can bring alleviation to those who are poor. But this is almost always humiliating, not only for the giver but also for the receiver. On the other hand, charity joins the benefactor to the one who is receiving the benefit because it can be disguised in so many ways! It is possible to be charitable even to friends and relations, simply by being indulgent to one another, by mutually forgiving all weaknesses and by taking care not to hurt anyone's self-respect. You who are Spiritists, can be charitable in the manner in which you behave towards others who think differently than you do, or by inducing those who are less enlightened to believe without shocking them, without attacking their own convictions. You can also attract them lovingly to our meetings, so they may listen to us and so that we may know how to discover a way into their hearts. All this is just one aspect of charity.

Listen now to what is meant by charity towards the poor, those disinherited of this world, who will be recompensed by God if they are able to accept their miseries without complaint, which in turn will depend upon you and the way in which you offer help. You will understand what I mean by the following example.

Several times each week I go to watch a meeting of ladies of all ages. For us you know, they are all sisters. What do they do? They work quickly, very quickly with their agile fingers. I see how radiant are their faces and note how their hearts all beat in unison. But what is the purpose of all this work? It is because winter approaches, which will be very hard for those who are poor. During the summer those busy ants could not put by all the necessary provisions and most of their utensils have been pawned. The needy mothers are anxious and frequently weep thinking of their children who will go cold and hungry during the long winter! Poor unfortunate women, be patient, for God has inspired others more wealthy than yourselves and they have joined together to make clothes! One of these days, when the Earth is covered with snow and you are complaining and accusing God of being unjust, which is what you always do and say every time you suffer, then you will see someone appear, sent by these good workers who have established themselves as labourers for the poor. Yes, it is for you that they work like that and your complaints will be turned into blessings, because in the hearts of those who are unhappy, love follows close behind hate.

As all workers need encouragement, communications from the good Spirits come from all sides. The menfolk also take part in this society, bringing their help in the form of readings, which are pleasing to all. As recompense for the enthusiasm of everyone, and of certain individuals in particular, we the Spirits promise to bring these hard-working labourers good customers, who will pay in the form of blessings, which after all is the only currency acceptable in Heaven. We also assure them without fear of contradictions, that this currency will never be lacking for any one of these workers. - CARITA (Lyon, 1861).

15. My dear friends, every day I hear some of those amongst you say: "I am poor, so I cannot offer any charity," and yet each day I see that you lack indulgence towards your fellow men. You forgive nothing and set yourselves up as very severe judges without even asking if you would like the same done to you. Is indulgence not a charity? You, who can do nothing more than offer the charity of indulgence, do at least this, but do it grandly. Referring to material charity, I would like to tell you a story from the other world:

Two men having just died, God was heard to say that while these men had been alive all their good deeds were to be deposited in two separate sacks, and that on their death the sacks would be weighed. When each of them reached their last hours, God sent word for them to bring their two sacks. One was crammed full, voluminous and resounding with the metal it contained. The other was so small and thin that it was possible to see the few coins it contained through the cloth. Each man recognised the sack that belonged to him: "This is mine," said the first one, "I recognise it; I was rich and gave away a great deal." The other man said: "This one is mine. I was always poor. Ah! I had almost nothing to give." But what a surprise when they were put on the scales, because the voluminous one became light in weight and the small one showed itself to be heavy, so much so that it raised the first sack high into the air! Then God spoke to the rich man: "It is true that you gave much. But you did so from ostentation and to see your name on view in all the temples of pride. Furthermore, in giving you deprived yourself of nothing. Go to the left and be satisfied that the alms you gave count for something, however small." Then God spoke to the poor man: "You gave very little, my friend, but each one of your coins which are on the scales, represents a privation for you. Even if you did not distribute alms, you were charitable and the best thing is that you did it naturally, without preoccupying yourself whether it would be put into your account You were indulgent and did not judge your neighbours; on the contrary, you found excuses for all their actions. Go to the right and you will receive your recompense." A Protecting Spirit (Lyon, 1861).

16. Could not the rich and happy woman, who does not have to occupy her time with household duties, dedicate some of the hours of her day to useful work in aid of her fellow beings? Could she not buy clothes from the money that is left over from her pleasures, for those less fortunate than herself, who shiver with the cold? Could she not make thick warm clothing with her delicate hands, or help a mother-to-be clothe her unborn child? If her own child goes without some ribbons and lace, at least a poor child will have something to keep it warm. By working for the poor and needy you are working in the vineyard of the Lord.

And you, the poor labourer who has nothing superfluous, but nevertheless being full of love for your fellow brothers and sisters also wish to give something from the little you have. Give then a few hours of your time, which is the only treasure you possess; make some of those elegant handicrafts which tempt those who are happy; also, try making and selling work done in your evenings. Then you too can play your part in assisting your brothers and sisters in need. Perhaps you will have a few ribbons less, but you will be giving shoes to the barefoot.

And you, the women who have vowed your lives to God, continue to work with your undertakings. But take care that these achievements are not for the exclusive adornment of your chapels, to call attention to your abilities and patience! Work, my daughters, so that the product of your undertakings be destined to help your brothers and sisters before God. The poor are His dearly beloved children; to work for them is to glorify Him. Be unto them the providence which says: God gives sustenance unto the birds of the sky. Exchange the gold and silver threads with which you embroider, for food and clothes for those who have none. Do this and your work will be blessed. To all those able to produce, then give, give of your talents, inspirations and hearts and God will bless you. Poets and literary men, you who are only read by those who are worldly, satisfy their leisure, yes, but also dedicate the product of some of your works to help the needy! Painters, sculptors, artists of all kinds! May you too use intelligence to benefit your fellow beings, for your glory will be no less and some of your sufferings will be avoided.

Everyone can give! Whatever your social standing you will always find something to share with another. From whatever it is that God has bestowed upon you, a part of what He has awarded is owed to those who lack the necessities of life, seeing that, in their place you would wish others to share with you. Perhaps your earthly treasures will be a little less. Nevertheless, your heavenly treasures will likewise be increased. It is there, in Heaven, that you will reap a hundredfold of all that you have sown as benefits to others in this world. - JOHN (Bordeaux, 1861).


COMPASSION


17. Compassion is the virtue which draws you closer to the angels. It is a sister to charity, which also conducts you to God. Ah! Allow your hearts to be moved by compassion before the spectacle of the miseries and sufferings of your fellow creatures. Your tears will act as a balm on their wounds, and when shed out of sympathy will restore their hope and resignation. Oh! What sweetness is to be felt! Nevertheless, it is true that this same sweetness has a certain bitterness about it because it springs up alongside misery. But it does not have the acrid flavour of worldly pleasures, nor does it bring with it the pungent deceptions of emptiness which these pleasures leave behind. The enveloping gentle penetration of this sentiment fills the Soul with joy. Compassion and pity, when deeply felt, are acts of loving; love is devotion; devotion is the forgetfulness of self and it is this, combined with abnegation in favour of those less fortunate than ourselves, which is the height of virtue. It was that virtue which the Divine Messiah practised throughout His entire life and which He taught in His saintly and sublime doctrine. When this doctrine is fully restored to its original pureness and when mankind submits to it, then the world will become a happy place wherein will reign harmony, peace and love.

The most appropriate sentiment for making mankind progress, by dominating his selfishness and pride, which predisposes the soul towards humility, beneficence and the loving of one another, is compassion! This is the same compassion which moves deep inside when you lay eyes on the suffering of your fellow creatures, which imp ells you to extend a helping hand and which brings tears of sympathy to your eyes. Accordingly, never stifle this celestial emotion within your heart. Do not proceed as do those who are hard and selfish, who turn aside from the afflicted because the sight of their miseries perturbs their cheerful lives for an instant. Be fearful of remaining indifferent when you could be of help. Tranquility, bought at the expense of a guilty indifference, is like the tranquility of the Dead Sea, at the bottom of which lies a vast hidden mass of putrid corruption.

Compassion is far removed from causing disturbance and inconvenience, of which the selfish person is so afraid. Nevertheless, on contact with the misfortunes and miseries of another person, the soul, rebounding upon itself, experiences a natural and profound anguish which beyond doubt vibrates throughout the whole being and causes it to be painfully affected. But the compensation is great, however, when compassion suffices to give courage and hope to an unhappy brother or sister, who are moved by a friendly handshake and so turn to you affectionately with tear-filled eyes, perhaps from emotion and gratitude, even before they raise these same eyes to Heaven in thanks for having sent someone to console and sustain them in their hour of need. Compassion then, is the melancholic but celestial precursor of charity, being the first of all virtues, which she has for sister and whose benefits she prepares and ennobles. - MICHAEL (Bordeaux, 1862).


ORPHANS


18. Brothers and sisters, you should all love the orphans. If you only knew how sad it is to be abandoned, especially in infancy! God permits there to be orphans so that we may be motivated to be their parents. What an act of divine charity it is to protect a creature who has been sadly abandoned, to stop them from being hungry and cold, and administer to their soul so they may not fall prey to vice! When someone offers a helping hand to an abandoned creature they are being agreeable to God because they have understood and practised His law. Meditate on the possibility that frequently the child you are helping may be someone who was very dear to you in a past incarnation, and that if they were able to recognise you, it would no longer be an act of charity but a simple obligation. In this way, my friends, every sufferer is your brother or sister and so has a right to your kindness. However, not the kind of charity that hurts feelings, nor yet the kind of alms that burns the hand which receives it, for unfortunately help is frequently accompanied by bitterness! How many times these sufferers would rather have refused, if it were not for the fact of sickness or death being their only other option. So, give with delicacy and together with any benefits you may offer, also give the most precious benefit of all, that of a kindly word, a loving gesture and a friendly smile. Avoid being patronizing, which only turns the dagger of suffering in the heart, so causing more bleeding. Consider that by doing good, you're working for your own benefit as well as for those whom you love. - A Family Spirit (Paris, 1860).

19. What should be thought of those who, on receiving ingratitude in payment for benefits they have done, cease practising good because they no longer get on with those who were ungrateful?

There is far more selfishness in these people than charity, seeing that they do good only for the purpose of receiving demonstrations of acknowledgement and consequently do not do so disinterestedly. The only act of goodness acceptable to God is the one done with complete disinterest. There is of course also pride in these people, since those who behave in this manner take pleasure in the humbleness shown by the receivers of the benefits when they come to lay before them the testimony of their gratitude. Those who seek reward on Earth for the good they have done will not then receive it in Heaven. However, God will esteem all who do not seek their rewards here on Earth.

You should always help the weak, although knowing beforehand that you will receive no thanks for your help. But you can always be sure that if the person to whom you did a service forgets, God will take this even more into account than if the beneficiary had paid their debt. If God permits that sometimes you are paid with ingratitude, this is only to test your perseverance 'n the practice of goodness.

Who knows but that a momentarily forgotten benefit will not produce good fruits in the future? You can be sure it is a seed which will germinate with time. Unfortunately, we never see anything but the present! We work for ourselves and never for others. The receiving of benefits will finally soften even the most torpid heart; they may be forgotten in this world, but after having disposed of its outergarment, the Spirit who has received will remember this fact and this remembrance will be their punishment. The Spirit will deplore its own ingratitude and desire to make reparation by paying the debt in a future life, frequently seeking an existence of dedication to its benefactor. In this way, without even suspecting, you will have contributed to the moral advancement of that Spirit You will come to recognise the truth in the words: a benefit is never lost. Besides which you will also have worked for yourself, since you will have earned merit for having done good without self-interest, without becoming disanimated by deceptions.

Ah! My friends, if you knew of all the ties which link your present life with those of past existences! If you could see at a glance the immense number of relationships that join us, one to another, for the purpose of mutual progress, you would admire even more the wisdom and goodness of the Lord, Who allows us to relive so as to be able, one day, to reach Him. - A Protecting Guide (Senns, 1862).

20. Is it right to practise beneficence exclusively amongst persons of the same opinions, beliefs or political parties?

No. It is exactly this idea of sects and parties which must be abolished, because there exists a brotherhood between all mankind. The true Christian, being one who can accept that all are brothers, does not stop to enquire as to beliefs or opinions before offering to help. Would a Christian be obeying the precepts of Jesus Christ, Who told us to love our enemies, if he were to repel an unfortunate person just because they professed a different belief? Therefore help without asking that anyone give an account of themselves, because if they are enemies of religion, this is just the way to make them accept it, whereas by repelling them you only cause them to hate religion. - SAINT LOUIS (Paris, 1860).

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