XI. OF THE PRECEPTS RELATING TO CHARITY
Is there in the law of God any precept relating to the virtue of charity?
Yes (XLIV. 1).
What is this precept?
This precept is the following: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole mind, with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength" (XLIV. 4).
What do these words mean precisely?
They mean that in all our actions our intention should be directed towards God; that all our thoughts should be subject to Him; and that all our affections should be regulated according to His will; and that all our external acts should be performed in fulfilment of His will
Is this precept of charity a great precept?
Yes, it is indeed the greatest of all the precepts, since it contains virtually all other precepts, for these are ordained to it (XLIII. 1-3).
Is this precept of charity one and single, or does it embrace several other precepts?
This precept taken in its fulness is both one and many; and this means that understood in its proper sense it alone is sufficient in the order of charity; for in very truth one cannot love God without loving one's neighbour whom we must love for God's sake; but in order that the precept may be properly understood by all, to this first precept is added a second, which is really not distinct from the first, viz., "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (XLIV. 2,3,7).
Are these precepts of charity contained in the Decalogue?
No, for these precepts of charity precede, and as it were dominate, the Decalogue; indeed, the precepts contained in the Decalogue were only given in order that the carrying out of the precepts of charity might be assured (XLIV. 1).
Are these precepts of charity in the supernatural order manifest of themselves without any need of their being promulgated?
Yes, for just in the same way as there is a law of nature inborn in all which commands that in the natural order God must be loved above all and all things else for His sake; so it is a law essential to the supernatural order that God, who is the fount of all in this order, must be loved with a supernatural love above all and all things else for His sake.
Then, not to love God above all, and not to love one's neighbour as oneself, is to run counter to what is essential in the order of the affections?
Yes, this is so.
Next - The Catechism of the Summa - SECOND SECTION - A DETAILED SURVEY OF MAN'S RETURN TO GOD - XII. OF THE GIFT OF WISDOM WHICH CORRESPONDS TO CHARITY; AND OF THE SIN TO WHICH IT IS OPPOSED (A)