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).