When post-moderns think of caritas or charity, their minds jump to acts of benevolence or philanthropy. Charity in our world tends to be associated with material giving that is above and beyond what the government does. But the word charity comes to us from the Latin caritas, which means affection, love, and esteem. As the Christians appropriated it, it came to mean dear, costly, expensive, or precious.

To the men and women of Jesus’ time, the word would have referred to something that was hard to come by, and yet when attained, to be treasured and valued above many other things. But Caritas as a virtue soon gained supreme importance to early Christians because of its perfect Incarnation in the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Particularly, Caritas came to mean that love and mercy of God that was embodied perfectly in Jesus Christ’s one oblation of Himself once offered for the sins of the whole world. Caritas then is revealed as the costly love, the precious mercy, and the dear sacrifice that God would make for all men in His own dear Son in order to reveal His desire for their salvation.  Continue Reading