Eucharist and the Virtue of Charity

Love is often misconstrued in our culture. We use the same word to describe our fondness for coffee, our favorite book, our dearest friends and family members. In relationships, love is reduced to a feeling, often bound up in lust. For some, love only exists in fairy tales, because of the hurt, betrayal, and pain they have endured by people in their life who were supposed to love them. But true love, true charity, is self-emptying, sacrificial, unconditional.

Charity wills the good of the other, it is the virtue “by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor [and our enemies] as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC, §1822). Though difficult, this is the love we are called to: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” (John 15:9). To love as the Father loves perhaps seems impossible, and indeed it would be if not for the sacraments, which infuse us with grace and enable us to orient our hearts to the greatest good. The sacrament which binds us most perfectly to the virtue of charity is the Eucharist, the third and final sacrament of initiation.

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