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It is a glorious thing to gain the love of the people by liberality; but this must not be given so freely to the undeserving or too sparingly to the needy. 

We can give food to the needy from our own daily supply; we can also give advice and help to those who are ashamed to show their want openly so long as the common supplies of the needy are not exhausted. 

The needy may be one who has lost his wealth and now reduced to want. We must be wary of those who have fallen into want owing to wastefulness in youth. The needy are also those who have lost their possessions to thieves or lost their inheritance through no fault of their own.  

The higher form of liberality is to redeem captives, to save them from the hands of their enemies, to snatch men from death, and, most of all, women from shame, to restore children to their parents, parents to their children, and to bring back a citizen to his country. 

To redeem captives from barbarian enemies who have no human feelings is a special act of liberality. Also to take upon oneself the debt of another who is unable to pay through want. So, too, to bring up children and to take care of orphans and widows. 

Though liberality is often shown through money, the grander and nobler forms of liberality are in the form of active help. Joseph's counsel to Pharaoh is such. Money is easily spent; counsels can never be exhausted. The more money is used the fewer needy are helped. The more counsels are given, the more need for counsel arises. 

St. Ambrose, Duties of the Clergy, Chapter XV






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