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fling an alms to a beggar with repugnance, and solely to get rid of him.' It was superstitiously regarded as a bad omen to meet a mendicant. "What is the use," says Plautus, "of giving a beggar anything? One loses what one gives away, and only prolongs the miserable existence of the receiver." How different is the old Spanish Christian maxim: "What I give away, I keep; what I keep, I lose." Even the gentle Virgil includes among the features of the wise man's happiness his apathy for the indigence of, others. The highest beneficence granted by Roman ethics to the indigent, was to bestow upon them what one could give without inconvenience to one's self.3

How strange and revolting these sentiments seem to us, accustomed as we are to the contemplation of works of benevolence everywhere existing around us! How much soever Christians may be unhappily . divided among themselves on questions of religious faith, there is no disagreement among them on the great law of charity to their fellow-beings. Whatever may be their practical conduct, both Catholics and non-Catholics agree, that it is meet and proper to relieve helpless infancy and feeble old age, to aid the widow and the orphan. This is a common platform on which Christians of all denominations stand united.

Of all the virtues that shine forth in the life of our Blessed Redeemer, there is none so prominent or conspicuous as His mercy to suffering humanity. This might be called His characteristic virtue, if the

1 De Clem. V., 6. 2 Geor. 11. 499.

8 Cicero, De Officiis, I., 16.

term could be applied to One who was perfect in every virtue. On every leaf of the Gospel, that golden word compassion shines forth, brightening every page and cheering every heart.

Take, for instance, the miracles of our Saviour. They are far more remarkable for their utility and beneficence than for their splendor or terror-producing effect. There is as much difference between the miracles of Jesus Christ and those of Moses, as there .is between the thunder and lightning that ushered in the Old Law and the lambent tongues of fire that heralded the New Law of grace. We never hear of our Saviour's exercising His divine power as Moses did, by changing rivers into blood and by destroying the first-born of the land. We never hear of His commanding the sun to stand in the heavens, as Josue did; nor do we read of Him as we do of Elias, that He called down fire from. heaven to consume an offending city, though he was once importuned to do so by His disciples while they were as yet but imperfectly instructed in the spirit of the Gospel. We remember His reply in language so worthy of Himself: "Ye know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to save."

destroy souls, but to

No, the miracles of our Lord were wrought to lessen the sufferings and to lighten the burdens of men. He manifested His power in going about doing good.1 He gave sight to the blind,2 speech to

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the dumb and hearing to the deaf,' the power of walking to the lame, strength to the paralyzed limb.3 He gave health to the sick; He cleansed the leper; He fed the hungry; He raised the dead to life; and, what is more, He raised to the life of grace those that had lain buried in the grave of sin; He blessed the little ones that gathered around Him, and comforted the heart of the afflicted widow.1



But nothing is more manifest in the Gospel than the sympathy of Jesus for the poor. He wished to stamp with condemnation the spirit of the world, that estimates a man's dignity by his wealth and his degradation by his poverty. To render His mission to the poor more effective, He chose to be born of humble parentage, in an obscure town, in a wretched stable. He led a life of poverty, not from necessity, but from choice. He could say of Himself: "The foxes have burrows and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to Pay his head." He selected His twelve Apostles from the lower walks of life, men without wealth or human learning or social or family influence. When He entered the synagogue of Nazareth in the first days of His public life, He gave as a proof of


1 Mark VII., 35.
2 Matt. XXI., 14.
3 Ibid. IX., 6.
4 Luke VII., 10.

5 Matt. VIII., 3.

6 John VI., 11.

Ibid. XI., 43.
8 Luke VII., 14.
9 Mark X., 16.
10 Luke VII., 14.
11 Matt. VIII., 20.

His divine mission that in Him were fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah who foretold that the Messiah was to preach to the poor and afflicted: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Wherefore, He hath anointed Me. He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted.” 1 And when John the Baptist in prison sent two of his disciples to our Lord to ask Him if He was the true Messiah, Jesus returned this answer: "Go and relate to John what ye hear and see. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them." 2 In other words, tell him that My mission is especially to the poor. His miracles were wrought more frequently in behalf of the lowly; and the blessings of eternal life are promised especially to the meek and poor in spirit.3

The Catholic Church, guided by this beautiful example of our Redeemer, has always proclaimed the sanctity of human suffering and of human life. Ever since He bore His cross for mankind, His sor rows have sanctified the sorrows of humanity and shed a halo around them.

The Church has also proclaimed the sanctity of human life. She sets no mercenary price on man. Great in her eyes is the dignity of the citizen, but greater is the dignity of the man. Though he is bound to contribute to the welfare of the State, according to the best of his ability, yet his moral

1 Isaiah LXI., 1; Luk. IV., 18. 2 Matt. XI., 4, 5.

3 Matt. V., 3, 4.

grandeur is independent of the service he may be able to render it. The infant born yesterday into the world; the old man tottering toward the grave; the deformed creature that can give no present or prospective aid to his country,—all are precious in the sight of God and His Church. For within that body, whether of helpless infancy, or decrepit old age, or deformed humanity, there dwells an immortal spirit. The Christian religion regards man as a child of God, a brother of Christ, an heir of heaven.

This recognition of man's dignity and of the sanctity of human suffering, is the secret of that quickening spirit of benevolence which always animates the Church wherever she gains a firm foothold.

For my part, were I investigating the respective claims of the various systems of religion that have sprung up in the course of centuries, much as I would be attracted to the Catholic Church by her admirable unity of doctrine, the sanctity of her moral code, her world-wide Catholicity, and by that unbroken chain of Apostolic succession, which binds her inseparably to the primitive Church, I should be still more irresistibly drawn to her by that organized system of charity which she has established throughout the world in behalf of suffering humanity. As the unity of the Church's faith is secured by the principle of authority, so are the works of charity fostered and perpetuated by her organized system of benevolence. Montes

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