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,