The opposite of charity

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s hot and humid outside even though it’s rained a bit the last few nights. The renovations at my parents’ house are finally done. All the furniture that had to be moved up and downstairs and out to the garage and back again is in its proper place and I have a mess of small bruises and a very sore knee to show for it.

This morning was the first in two weeks that I was able to sit and read my newspaper and drink my tea when I got up. It’s also Canada Day.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a seventeen year old sister. Since I moved back to Ontario a month ago I’ve been living with her and another sister at my parents’ house. I’ve really been trying to see her in a better light than I’m generally inclined to and up until this weekend I was mostly succeeding. Yesterday was a failure which ended with me crying in my room for an  hour and then staying holed up there with a book all evening except to come down to dinner; during which I flipped her the bird before excusing myself and returning to my room.

I’m not going to bother with a list of all the things she did to vex me yesterday, because they’re not important.  What’s important here is what it means to be charitable.

charityCharity is not just an umbrella term for organizations which work to help marginalized people without cost to them. It’s not just the act of giving money or time to the church or these organizations, although the act is certainly an expression of it which I’ve become very familiar with as my family prepares to move.

As Catholics, we have a unique understanding of virtues and gifts. Faith, hope, and charity are the three theological virtues which form the foundation for moral virtues and spiritual gifts. As a virtue, charity means to “love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.”

I didn’t cry in my room for an hour yesterday because I was hurt by Kathleen’s angry words. They were the trigger, but what I was really upset about was how instead of letting what she said go, instead of being patient and waiting for her to be able to help me, and instead of curbing my tongue when snarky comments came to mind; I got mad at her. I yelled and swore and said all the things I thought and let all the frustrations of the last few weeks churn.

Then instead of apologizing and letting it be done, I stayed in my room reading and being upset with myself for not being able to find it in me to love her even a little bit right then.

I wasn’t being charitable. I need to work on that.

Heading out for a Canada Day BBQ,

Meredith

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