I was going over the Theological Virtues with Aileen today as part of her preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation and it struck me that Caritas can not accurately be translated into the English language!
I found it interesting that the most important of all the Virtues has no direct translation in the operating language of Western Society. People will either translate it as "love" which unfortunately has been over used to the point where "loving" can be used to refer to anything from watching garbage T.V shows to the emotion a mother feels towards a hew newborn infant.
At the other end of the spectrum it is limply translated into charity which for many has come to signify giving emotionless hand outs of unwanted things while turning a blind eye towards the real issues at hand. (How many of you "donated" that can of lentils at the back of your parents cupboard to the local food bank during the school food drive?)
In reality, outside of the truth of the Gospel, what passes for charity these days is in reality simply activism. What is REALLY sad is that there are legions of "Catholics" who have jumped onto the social justice bandwagon without a single CLUE about the social justice teaching of the Church, most recently clarified in Caritas in Veritate.
I guess what bugs me most is that NO ONE seems to be talking about this obvious and deliberate attack from the Enemy to obscure and distort the most important of all the virtues...without which ANY act of kindness, generosity, or Faith even, is effectively reduced to the level of fingernails screeching across chalkboard.
A person could tithe millions of dollars in their lifetime, but without Caritas, they are no better than the wealthy who were putting their spare change into the treasury. For those of you unfamiliar with tithing, tithing is the practice of giving 10% of the first fruits of your labor, usually that means money, to God and God's work, specifically by giving it to the church. By the way, you can't "tithe" to your local hospital or animal shelter...even though they are both honorable causes.
I know that someone out there in cyberville is going to come across this post and mildly, or not so mildly remark that some of my comments on this have perhaps not reflected Caritas, however, watching the growing number of professionals (ie teachers, chaplains and the like) promoting activism disguised as charity is like watching those who tried out for American Idol that could have used a singing lesson or two before being ridiculed on national television.
What the world really needs now is Caritas, sweet Caritas.