[T]he wasteful person is meant to have the single vicious feature of ruining his property; for someone who causes his own destruction is wasteful, and ruining one's own property seems to be a sort of self destruction, on the assumption that our living depends on our property. This, then, is how we understand wastefulness. (IV:§5)
Other people, by contrast, go to the excess of taking, by taking any think from any source—those, for instance, who work at degrading occupations, pimps and all such people, and usurers who lend small amounts at high interest; for all of these take the wrong amounts from the wrong sources. (IV:§40)
to good and bad men as it pleases him.
Hardship he has sent you, and you must bear it.
But now that you have taken refuge here
you shall not lack for clothing, or any other
comfort due to a poor man in distress. (6.200f)
Thomistic Caritas and the Three Wise Men
To Aquinas, and to Christendom in general, caritas is a love of man for god. In the metaphysical scheme, caritas is not created by the soul but is the spirit of God itself. As it is written in the Summa Theologica, "The Divine Essence Itself is charity, even as It is wisdom and goodness". Caritas, thus, belongs to a chain of communion of God to the the fellowship of Christ. To wit, caritas enlivens the soul, which quickens the body, which is used in communion with others. For it is written in Corinthians, "God is faithful: by Whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son". But its chatholicity is evident in the fact that divine love is extended even to sinners, "[W]hom, out of charity, we love for God's sake". So it seems to be an act of fellowship with god, rather than a metaphysical substance. Since caritas indwells the soul - and it is the spirit of divine love itself - then, naturally, it will radiate to our neighbors as it does ourselves.
Charity is not an act of gift giving. In fact it says explicitly in I Corinthians, "If I should distribute all my goods to the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing". This is so because charity is the source of all virtues, for, without the communion of the soul to God, no other divine virtues can exist. Thus, those forms of love, which the Christians might call caritas, are those acts which are a proof of the love of man towards God. To make sense of this, we need to explore the life of Christ a little.
26. Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.27. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”(John 6:26-27)
It is not the weight of jewel or plate,
Or the fondle of silk or fur;
"Tis the spirit in which the gift is rich,
As the gifts of the Wise Ones were,
And we are not told whose gift was gold,
Or whose was the gift of myrrh.- The Spirit of the Gift
- Modes of Exchange: Gift and Commodity. Bell, Duran.
- Odyssey. trans. Fitzgerald, Robert.
- Nicomachean Ethics, 2nd ed. trans. Irwin, Terence.
- The Greeks. Kitto, H.D.F.
- Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Gods. Roman.
- Zeus. Dowden, Ken
- New King James Bible
- Summa Theologica. Online version by Knight, Kevin. <http://www.newadvent.org/summa/index.html>
- Issues in Economics Today, 3rd ed. Guell.
- Encyclopedia Britannica.
- "On this Day" NY Times. Kenedy, Rodert C. <http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1016.html>