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Charity (Love)

First Steps after Millet, by Vincent van Gogh, 1890

“True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have.”

  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Every good act is charity. A man's true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows.”

  • Molière

What is Charity?

Love is an appetite we have for the good in other things. We possess a desire for goods under their sensitive, and intellectual aspects. We can yearn for something for its taste, smell, sight, feel, and physical appearance, or for its intellectual qualities, wherein we desire a person as a friend for their personality traits or virtue, a colleague for their skills, or as a lover for the beauty of their entire person.

We all know that our desires can lead us to fulfilment, contentment, and deep joy, yet also easily astray into infatuation, addiction, jealousy and resentment. What differentiates the good from the bad is that a healthy desire unites us to a proper vision of the good. Love, however, is much more than right desire, but must lead to action.

Charity (love) is a kind of friendship with the good. It consists in willing, acting, and having affection for the object of one’s love. It is differentiated from lusting, eating gluttonously, merely liking and preferring, feeling pleasure or strong attraction to something or someone, in that love’s objects, its motivations, and the ends in which it is in service of, are connatural – or, ‘fitting’ – with the nature of the lover and the beloved. As human beings, all of our lower sensitive appetites are tempered and perfected by our rational capacities, meaning we do not just eat for sustenance, but to share enjoyment, conversation and care for others over a meal; we do not just have physical sexual desire for procreation, but a desire for complete, total, self-giving union with our opposite in an exclusive, committed fashion.

In the interpersonal context, charity consists in both willing the good of the other, and in being united in affection with them. Think of it this way – sometimes someone will say that they love something or someone with great affection, kindness, and always with a positive attitude, but not with an eye to what the other person really needs. They may neglect to ask whether it is good to affirm certain things others do or say, or they may not truly wish their good, but only insofar as being kind and nice brings them their own enjoyment. On the other hand, those who wish people well, and actively attempt to bring that about in an attentive, considerate way, who nonetheless can stir no emotion in their hearts for the lives of others - this cannot be said to be charitable love in the true sense.

Love, then, is desiring the good of things and others in a way that is conducive to our good, and those of others. What is characteristic of proper love is the connaturality, fittingness between the natures of the lover, and the object and subjects loved. Charitable love requires that we give of ourselves to others, for the sake of the good. It requires both an attentiveness to the needs of others, a knowledge of what is good for us as human beings, and an enduring affection toward those we love, through thick and thin.

Written by: Peter Copeland

Interview on Charity (Love) with Bob Lamoureux

A quote about charity (love)

Jesus, on the importance of love when He said to his apostles, “Love me as I have loved you.” This is not possible, of course, but I believe Jesus was asking us to try as hard as we possibly can, knowing our human nature.

How do you define charity?

The most common use of the word charity today is “voluntary giving [usually money] to those in need.”

However, I think of charity as love of one’s fellow human beings, which is the Old English and Old French meaning from the Latin word caritas.

How does the virtue of charity relate to work?

When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered in Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Thus, charity relates to everything in life, work, play and family. Moreover, I believe charity (or love) is the underpinning of every virtue. Can you be temperate, prudent, just, patient, humble, kind, etc… and not have charity, as St. Paul asks in his first letter to the Corinthians?

It is clear that the Lord expects us to show love at work.

Why is it important in a work context?

Some other benefits of exercising charity at work:

  • Charity can be the foundation of a mentoring relationship

  • It can help employees grow in knowledge and wisdom

  • It can help employees form and develop their goals, aspirations and careers

  • It can make them more productive, fulfilled and happy.

How have you personally built on this virtue?

Being human, we often dwell on our own issues and problems. Those among us who care for others can better understand their problems when we think of the challenges we’ve endured. My own past issues and troubles provide a continuous reminder and trigger to recognize the pain of others, and to ask how I can help. In the past couple of years, I have enjoyed and benefited from mentoring young men with a number of issues.

Did someone mentor you on this?

No one person led me to these findings. I was just fortunate, through the grace of God, to have been placed in the best circumstances with the right family, friends and acquaintances; God-led osmosis, really.

Have you mentored others about charity?

I haven’t actively and specifically mentored others about charity. I just try to act with love and caring, and hope, with God’s grace, that some of it rubs off. In the same way that other people’s love rubs off on me all the time.

How have you lived this virtue at work?

Full-time work is some 18 years behind me now. However, during that time, I have served on 10 corporate boards and a number of not-for-profit organizations, as a director, chairman and committee chairman. Especially when in a leadership role, I have tried to help others grow, learn and become more productive and thoughtful of others.

Do you have any examples of failing to live this virtue at work, and did you overcome this?

There is no doubt that I have at times shown preference to some (who were more likeable) and not to others. This is a human weakness that we must all work to overcome.

On my best behaviour, I have tried to help everyone for their benefit and the benefit of the organization.

Do you have examples of friends or colleagues living this virtue at work?

As I mentioned, I have been out of full-time employment for nearly two decades. It is difficult to know what motivated my bosses in my career. However, I definitely had a number of mentors (a healthy majority, I would say) who were kind and helpful to me in advancing my learning and my career.

Robert Lamoureux was born in Windsor, Ont., and has lived in Toronto since 1969. His ancestry is all French, going back to Louis Lamoureux who came to Canada from Normandy in 1662 and married Francoise Boivin in 1668 in Montreal. Boivin was also from Normandy and a “fille du roi" or one of the “King's Daughters,” a term used to refer to the approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France between 1663 and 1673 as part of a program sponsored by King Louis XIV.

A 13th-generation Canadian, 75-year-old Bob is married with one son, an attorney in Los Angeles, who is married and has a three-year-old son. Bob began his career as a corporate director in November 2003, a few months before retiring from PricewaterhouseCoopers following a successful 35-year career, where he served as an associate and audit partner specializing in financial services, mainly banking and investment funds. He also gained considerable experience in mining and manufacturing.

He was a member of PwC’s Business and Securities Valuations Group, valuing private companies and control positions in public companies in a variety of industries. In 2000, he founded PwC’s Corporate Governance Group, which he led until retiring from PwC in 2004.

From November 2004 to June 2005, while acting as Lead Director of Royal Group Technologies Inc., he stepped in to serve as interim Chief Financial Officer, during a corporate reputational crisis. Bob continues to serve as a director on several corporate, professional and community not-for-profit boards because he enjoys the many challenges, the opportunities to enhance shareholder value, as well as to learn and to meet new, interesting and talented people.

His education and certification includes:

  • Bachelor of Commerce, University of Windsor, 1969

  • Chartered Professional Accountant, 1972

  • Institute of Corporate Directors certification, 2004

  • Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant, 2006

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