“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35)
“A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself.” (Catechism 1803) Simply put, Catholic social doctrine supports good acts (acts of love/charity) and opposes acts of hate. Thus, Catholic social doctrine is an expression of this love for others and, as such, desires what is best for others, i.e., the common good.
St. Paul tells us that the greatest of virtues is love/charity (1 Cor 13:13), manifested in “good acts.” The terms charity and love are used interchangeably. When St. Paul says, “if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing,” (1 Cor 13:2) he is talking about the love for his fellow man, his neighbor, his family, and friends; mankind in general. This is the virtue Jesus spoke about when he told his audience they must love their neighbor as they love themselves. (Mt 22:39) This is the love on which we will be judged. Read Mt 25:31-46, Jas 2:15-17, and Mt 25:14-30.
These acts of love are part of the life of the Church since its beginning. An early teaching document, the Didache, dating back to the first century of the Church, admonished Christians to live a culture of life, dignity and charity and live a life of generosity. It included statements such as, “Do not hesitate to give and do not give with bad grace.” And “Do not turn your back on the needy.” It also forbade abortion, infanticide, magic, and pedophilia and it reinforced the Ten Commandments.
As Knights, acts of charity, reaching out to those in need, are a core dimension of our order. Actions speak louder than words. We can talk charity until we are blue in the face, but it is in action that we witness to our order and our faith. We have all been given gifts and we must use them for the good of others.
I wrote this for the Fall 2022 Newsletter for my Knights of Columbus Council