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THE PRIESTHOOD


 


 

DUE MEASURE MUST BE OBSERVED IN PRACTISING LIBERALITY

See to it that liberality is not wasted on worthless persons when worthier ones need it. However, alms are not to be given out in too sparing and hesitating a way. 

Your gifts must not be wasted by worthless giving. Moderation must be observed because there is a tendency to give much for the sake of ostentation and not for charity's sake. 

Today, greedy beggars who take advantage of the poor's coffers swarm us. Not content with little, they ask for more. They wear beggars' clothes to insist on their demands, and with lies about their lives they ask for further sums of money. 

If you believe them too easily, you will quickly drain the fund which is meant for the sustenance of the poor. 

Let there be a method in our giving, so that the poor may not go away empty nor the subsistence of the needy be done away and become the spoil of the dishonest. 

Many pretend they have debts or that robbers have stripped them. In such a case, give credit only if misfortune is apparent or the person is known; then readily give help. Otherwise, investigate the veracity of their situation. 

An easier act is to give to those in need of food and drink. Payment of debts and the need to bury a relative are harder to handle.

He, then, that observes a method in his giving is hard towards none, but is free towards all. 

Not only must we lend our ears to hear the voices of those that plead but also use our eyes to look into their other needs. We must specially look for those in need whom we do not see. The imprisoned and the sick cannot approach us. 

The more people see your zeal in showing mercy, the more will they love you. For those who see a good dispenser will give him something to distribute, sure that their gift will reach the poor. They will condemn, however, if they see that your are giving either in excess or too sparingly. In one case because you are wasteful, on the other because you are a hoarder. 

St. Ambrose, Duties of the Clergy, Chap. XVI

 

 

 

 


(11-23-02)

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