Caritas and amor


It’s a photo that feels good, as we say of certain films in an English formula that we will avoid here. We say it, in general, with a touch of condescension, to explain that the film thus labeled is pleasant to see, that it is steeped in good feelings, but that it is not a “great” film. We are wrong: this photo is great because it is good for the viewer. Especially since it is published in an edition which tells us about the resignation of an archbishop and the waves of the report on pedocriminality within it continue to shake the boat of the Catholic Church. This image tells us about the gospel.

We love the smile of the young blonde woman who has planted her gaze in the gaze, hidden by dark glasses, of a guest; the heart-shaped logo on which rests a cross tells us what drives it. We like the sign of friendship, discreet, exchanged from afar between a man in a cap on the left and a young woman near the door. We like the still stilted, shy side at the dinner table: it’s not so easy to break the ice, to talk to each other, when we don’t know each other and come from such different backgrounds. We love these young people, standing, serving tables.

Of course, for this meal shared with people in precariousness, barrier gestures are not fully respected; there is plastic on the tables and we have a feeling that the menu will be sober. But we feel there social friendship, fraternity, solidarity, the other names of charity. This word charity does not always get across, in fact, when it refers to old images in which helping the poor consisted of doing what we thought was right for them without asking their opinion, without listening to them, without learning about it. ‘them. When Jacques Brel, enemy of the “bourgeois”, sang with cruelty those bigots who knitted sweaters of a goose poo color so that their poor could be recognized by them! Charity is not “The generosity of the one who has, for the benefit of the one who has not”, summarizes Frédéric Trautmann, holder of the Jean Rodhain chair at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of Strasbourg, but “A person-to-person relationship”.

To better understand the meaning of this theological virtue, the article invites us to associate the word love with it. And that of justice, too. Then resonates in us the song of the community of Taizé, written by Jacques Berthier, “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est”. Yes, when charity and love are lived, God is there.

Let us allow ourselves a personal return to the past: the photo refers to distant times, to the era of student chaplaincy, to memories of Christmas meals shared with poor, elderly and lonely people, organized by the Little Brothers of the poor: we ate, we talked, we even danced there … A beneficent memory linking those years to the present generation, which is too often said not to commit. Yes, perhaps their faith is not expressed in the same way as ours; perhaps their engagement is more intermittent (have we been constant ourselves?). But, called, they answered present. The message of the Beatitudes is meaningful to them.

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