Where there is charity there is God: The highest virtue – even greater than faith and hope, which are essential to the Christian life, is charity. Why, because faith and hope are needed here and now to keep us believing in God and longing for a life in perfect union with Him, but when we get there, these virtues will no longer be necessary, that is why St. Paul tells us that it is charity that will remain, and so it is the greatest virtue of all. Charity is not pity, it is love, not the romantic love which is the predominant notion of love in our contemporary culture, but the self-sacrificing love revealed in the Mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, in that Christ forgoes his glory and humbles himself to be one with us, and goes even further in that he then lays down his life for our sake, accepting even death on a cross. This is the highest form of love, the love that gives without expectation of return, the love that sacrifices all for the good of the other. This love is not easily practiced nor frequently is it perfectly achieved, and the only hope that it will be so is that we as disciples of Christ exercise it as often as possible. Every year the local church that is the Diocese invites us to exercise such charity by responding to its request that that we support the pastoral, educational, social, and charitable activities of the church in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard which includes Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. This is charity because we are being asked to give even though what we give is not necessarily going to directly benefit us, or even others whom we may know but it will surely be used to instruct the ignorant, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger, and so much more besides. In imitation of Christ we are being asked to sacrifice for the good of others from whom we can expect nothing in return except perhaps their gratitude. Having been personally involved over the course of my priesthood in Hospital Ministry and the Spanish Apostolate both of which directly and nearly completely depend on the funds raised from this appeal, I can assure you that your donation is going toward efforts that are not only worthwhile but necessary to undertake for any community that wishes to be called Christian. So let us begin discerning now how to make whatever sacrifice would be necessary to stretch our charitable capacity a bit more by giving something in addition to what we might be comfortable giving! When we do we can be assured that God is in the mix, touching the lives of those who benefit from our generosity, but also as His life is increased in us through the virtue of charity.