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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF ALMSDEEDS (TEN ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF ALMSDEEDS (TEN ARTICLES)

We must now consider almsdeeds, under which head there are ten points of
inquiry:

(1) Whether almsgiving is an act of charity?

(2) Of the different kinds of alms;

(3) Which alms are of greater account, spiritual or corporal?

(4) Whether corporal alms have a spiritual effect?

(5) Whether the giving of alms is a matter of precept?

(6) Whether corporal alms should be given out of the things we need?

(7) Whether corporal alms should be given out of ill-gotten goods?

(8) Who can give alms?

(9) To whom should we give alms?

(10) How should alms be given ?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether almsgiving is an act of charity?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that almsgiving is not an act of charity. For
without charity one cannot do acts of charity. Now it is possible to give
alms without having charity, according to 1 Cor. 13:3: "If I should
distribute all my goods to feed the poor . . . and have not charity, it
profiteth me nothing." Therefore almsgiving is not an act of charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, almsdeeds are reckoned among works of satisfaction,
according to Dan. 4:24: "Redeem thou thy sins with alms." Now
satisfaction is an act of justice. Therefore almsgiving is an act of
justice and not of charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the offering of sacrifices to God is an act of religion.
But almsgiving is offering a sacrifice to God, according to Heb. 13:16:
"Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such sacrifices God's
favor is obtained." Therefore almsgiving is not an act of charity, but of
religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, l) that to give for a
good purpose is an act of liberality. Now this is especially true of
almsgiving. Therefore almsgiving is not an act of charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written 2 Jn. 3:17: "He that hath the substance
of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall put up his
bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, External acts belong to that virtue which regards the
motive for doing those acts. Now the motive for giving alms is to relieve
one who is in need. Wherefore some have defined alms as being "a deed
whereby something is given to the needy, out of compassion and for God's
sake," which motive belongs to mercy, as stated above (Q[30], AA[1],2).
Hence it is clear that almsgiving is, properly speaking, an act of mercy.
This appears in its very name, for in Greek {eleemosyne} it is derived
from having mercy {eleein} even as the Latin "miseratio" is. And since
mercy is an effect of charity, as shown above (Q[30], A[2], A[3], OBJ[3]
), it follows that almsgiving is an act of charity through the medium of
mercy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: An act of virtue may be taken in two ways: first
materially, thus an act of justice is to do what is just; and such an act
of virtue can be without the virtue, since many, without having the habit
of justice, do what is just, led by the natural light of reason, or
through fear, or in the hope of gain. Secondly, we speak of a thing being
an act of justice formally, and thus an act of justice is to do what is
just, in the same way as a just man, i.e. with readiness and delight, and
such an act of virtue cannot be without the virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

Accordingly almsgiving can be materially without charity, but to give
alms formally, i.e. for God's sake, with delight and readiness, and
altogether as one ought, is not possible without charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: Nothing hinders the proper elicited act of one virtue being
commanded by another virtue as commanding it and directing it to this
other virtue's end. It is in this way that almsgiving is reckoned among
works of satisfaction in so far as pity for the one in distress is
directed to the satisfaction for his sin; and in so far as it is directed
to placate God, it has the character of a sacrifice, and thus it is
commanded by religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

Wherefore the Reply to the Third Objection is evident.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Almsgiving belongs to liberality, in so far as liberality
removes an obstacle to that act, which might arise from excessive love of
riches, the result of which is that one clings to them more than one
ought.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the different kinds of almsdeeds are suitably enumerated?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/3

OBJ 1: It would seem that the different kinds of almsdeeds are
unsuitably enumerated. For we reckon seven corporal almsdeeds, namely, to
feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to
harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, to ransom the captive, to bury
the dead; all of which are expressed in the following verse: "To visit,
to quench, to feed, to ransom, clothe, harbor or bury."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 2/3

Again we reckon seven spiritual alms, namely, to instruct the ignorant,
to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to reprove the sinner,
to forgive injuries, to bear with those who trouble and annoy us, and to
pray for all, which are all contained in the following verse: "To
counsel, reprove, console, to pardon, forbear, and to pray," yet so that
counsel includes both advice and instruction.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 3/3

And it seems that these various almsdeeds are unsuitably enumerated. For
the purpose of almsdeeds is to succor our neighbor. But a dead man
profits nothing by being buried, else Our Lord would not have spoken
truly when He said (Mt. 10:28): "Be not afraid of them who kill the body,
and after that have no more that they can do." [*The quotation is from
Lk. 12:4.] This explains why Our Lord, in enumerating the works of mercy,
made no mention of the burial of the dead (Mt. 25:35,36). Therefore it
seems that these almsdeeds are unsuitably enumerated.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, as stated above (A[1]), the purpose of giving alms is to
relieve our neighbor's need. Now there are many needs of human life other
than those mentioned above, for instance, a blind man needs a leader, a
lame man needs someone to lean on, a poor man needs riches. Therefore
these almsdeeds are unsuitably enumerated.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, almsgiving is a work of mercy. But the reproof of the
wrong-doer savors, apparently, of severity rather than of mercy.
Therefore it ought not to be reckoned among the spiritual almsdeeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, almsgiving is intended for the supply of a defect. But
no man is without the defect of ignorance in some matter or other.
Therefore, apparently, each one ought to instruct anyone who is ignorant
of what he knows himself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Nom. in Evang. ix): "Let him that hath
understanding beware lest he withhold his knowledge; let him that hath
abundance of wealth, watch lest he slacken his merciful bounty; let him
who is a servant to art be most solicitous to share his skill and profit
with his neighbor; let him who has an opportunity of speaking with the
wealthy, fear lest he be condemned for retaining his talent, if when he
has the chance he plead not with him the cause of the poor." Therefore
the aforesaid almsdeeds are suitably enumerated in respect of those
things whereof men have abundance or insufficiency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The aforesaid distinction of almsdeeds is suitably taken
from the various needs of our neighbor: some of which affect the soul,
and are relieved by spiritual almsdeeds, while others affect the body,
and are relieved by corporal almsdeeds. For corporal need occurs either
during this life or afterwards. If it occurs during this life, it is
either a common need in respect of things needed by all, or it is a
special need occurring through some accident supervening. In the first
case, the need is either internal or external. Internal need is twofold:
one which is relieved by solid food, viz. hunger, in respect of which we
have "to feed the hungry"; while the other is relieved by liquid food,
viz. thirst, and in respect of this we have "to give drink to the
thirsty." The common need with regard to external help is twofold; one in
respect of clothing, and as to this we have "to clothe the naked": while
the other is in respect of a dwelling place, and as to this we have "to
harbor the harborless." Again if the need be special, it is either the
result of an internal cause, like sickness, and then we have "to visit
the sick," or it results from an external cause, and then we have "to
ransom the captive." After this life we give "burial to the dead."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

In like manner spiritual needs are relieved by spiritual acts in two
ways, first by asking for help from God, and in this respect we have
"prayer," whereby one man prays for others; secondly, by giving human
assistance, and this in three ways. First, in order to relieve a
deficiency on the part of the intellect, and if this deficiency be in the
speculative intellect, the remedy is applied by "instructing," and if in
the practical intellect, the remedy is applied by "counselling."
Secondly, there may be a deficiency on the part of the appetitive power,
especially by way of sorrow, which is remedied by "comforting." Thirdly,
the deficiency may be due to an inordinate act; and this may be the
subject of a threefold consideration. First, in respect of the sinner,
inasmuch as the sin proceeds from his inordinate will, and thus the
remedy takes the form of "reproof." Secondly, in respect of the person
sinned against; and if the sin be committed against ourselves, we apply
the remedy by "pardoning the injury," while, if it be committed against
God or our neighbor, it is not in our power to pardon, as Jerome observes
(Super Matth. xviii, 15). Thirdly, in respect of the result of the
inordinate act, on account of which the sinner is an annoyance to those
who live with him, even beside his intention; in which case the remedy
is applied by "bearing with him," especially with regard to those who sin
out of weakness, according to Rm. 15:1: "We that are stronger, ought to
bear the infirmities of the weak," and not only as regards their being
infirm and consequently troublesome on account of their unruly actions,
but also by bearing any other burdens of theirs with them, according to
Gal. 6:2: "Bear ye one another's burdens."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Burial does not profit a dead man as though his body could
be capable of perception after death. In this sense Our Lord said that
those who kill the body "have no more that they can do"; and for this
reason He did not mention the burial of the dead with the other works of
mercy, but those only which are more clearly necessary. Nevertheless it
does concern the deceased what is done with his body: both that he may
live in the memory of man whose respect he forfeits if he remain without
burial, and as regards a man's fondness for his own body while he was yet
living, a fondness which kindly persons should imitate after his death.
It is thus that some are praised for burying the dead, as Tobias, and
those who buried Our Lord; as Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. iii).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: All other needs are reduced to these, for blindness and
lameness are kinds of sickness, so that to lead the blind, and to support
the lame, come to the same as visiting the sick. In like manner to assist
a man against any distress that is due to an extrinsic cause comes to the
same as the ransom of captives. And the wealth with which we relieve the
poor is sought merely for the purpose of relieving the aforesaid needs:
hence there was no reason for special mention of this particular need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The reproof of the sinner, as to the exercise of the act of
reproving, seems to imply the severity of justice, but, as to the
intention of the reprover, who wishes to free a man from the evil of sin,
it is an act of mercy and lovingkindness, according to Prov. 27:6:
"Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an
enemy."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Nescience is not always a defect, but only when it is about
what one ought to know, and it is a part of almsgiving to supply this
defect by instruction. In doing this however we should observe the due
circumstances of persons, place and time, even as in other virtuous acts.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether corporal alms are of more account than spiritual alms?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that corporal alms are of more account than
spiritual alms. For it is more praiseworthy to give an alms to one who is
in greater want, since an almsdeed is to be praised because it relieves
one who is in need. Now the body which is relieved by corporal alms, is
by nature more needy than the spirit which is relieved by spiritual alms.
Therefore corporal alms are of more account.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, an alms is less praiseworthy and meritorious if the
kindness is compensated, wherefore Our Lord says (Lk. 14:12): "When thou
makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy neighbors who are rich, lest
perhaps they also invite thee again. Now there is always compensation in
spiritual almsdeeds, since he who prays for another, profits thereby,
according to Ps. 34:13: "My prayer shall be turned into my bosom: and he
who teaches another, makes progress in knowledge, which cannot be said of
corporal almsdeeds. Therefore corporal almsdeeds are of more account than
spiritual almsdeeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, an alms is to be commended if the needy one is comforted
by it: wherefore it is written (Job 31:20): "If his sides have not
blessed me," and the Apostle says to Philemon (verse 7): "The bowels of
the saints have been refreshed by thee, brother." Now a corporal alms is
sometimes more welcome to a needy man than a spiritual alms. Therefore
bodily almsdeeds are of more account than spiritual almsdeeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 20) on the
words, "Give to him that asketh of thee" (Mt. 5:42): "You should give so
as to injure neither yourself nor another, and when you refuse what
another asks you must not lose sight of the claims of justice, and send
him away empty; at times indeed you will give what is better than what is
asked for, if you reprove him that asks unjustly." Now reproof is a
spiritual alms. Therefore spiritual almsdeeds are preferable to corporal
almsdeeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, There are two ways of comparing these almsdeeds. First,
simply; and in this respect, spiritual almsdeeds hold the first place,
for three reasons. First, because the offering is more excellent, since
it is a spiritual gift, which surpasses a corporal gift, according to
Prov. 4:2: "I will give you a good gift, forsake not My Law." Secondly,
on account of the object succored, because the spirit is more excellent
than the body, wherefore, even as a man in looking after himself, ought
to look to his soul more than to his body, so ought he in looking after
his neighbor, whom he ought to love as himself. Thirdly, as regards the
acts themselves by which our neighbor is succored, because spiritual acts
are more excellent than corporal acts, which are, in a fashion, servile.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Secondly, we may compare them with regard to some particular case, when
some corporal alms excels some spiritual alms: for instance, a man in
hunger is to be fed rather than instructed, and as the Philosopher
observes (Topic. iii, 2), for a needy man "money is better than
philosophy," although the latter is better simply.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: It is better to give to one who is in greater want, other
things being equal, but if he who is less needy is better, and is in want
of better things, it is better to give to him: and it is thus in the case
in point.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2
Reply OBJ 2: Compensation does not detract from merit and praise if it
be not intended, even as human glory, if not intended, does not detract
from virtue. Thus Sallust says of Cato (Catilin.), that "the less he
sought fame, the more he became famous": and thus it is with spiritual
almsdeeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

Nevertheless the intention of gaining spiritual goods does not detract
from merit, as the intention of gaining corporal goods.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The merit of an almsgiver depends on that in which the will
of the recipient rests reasonably, and not on that in which it rests when
it is inordinate.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether corporal almsdeeds have a spiritual effect?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that corporal almsdeeds have not a spiritual
effect. For no effect exceeds its cause. But spiritual goods exceed
corporal goods. Therefore corporal almsdeeds have no spiritual effect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the sin of simony consists in giving the corporal for
the spiritual, and it is to be utterly avoided. Therefore one ought not
to give alms in order to receive a spiritual effect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, to multiply the cause is to multiply the effect. If
therefore corporal almsdeeds cause a spiritual effect, the greater the
alms, the greater the spiritual profit, which is contrary to what we read
(Lk. 21:3) of the widow who cast two brass mites into the treasury, and
in Our Lord's own words "cast in more than . . . all." Therefore bodily
almsdeeds have no spiritual effect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 17:18): "The alms of a man . . .
shall preserve the grace of a man as the apple of the eye."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Corporal almsdeeds may be considered in three ways.
First, with regard to their substance, and in this way they have merely a
corporal effect, inasmuch as they supply our neighbor's corporal needs.
Secondly, they may be considered with regard to their cause, in so far as
a man gives a corporal alms out of love for God and his neighbor, and in
this respect they bring forth a spiritual fruit, according to Ecclus.
29:13, 14: "Lose thy money for thy brother . . . place thy treasure in
the commandments of the Most High, and it shall bring thee more profit
than gold."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] Body Para. 2/2

Thirdly, with regard to the effect, and in this way again, they have a
spiritual fruit, inasmuch as our neighbor, who is succored by a corporal
alms, is moved to pray for his benefactor; wherefore the above text goes
on (Ecclus. 29:15): "Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall
obtain help for thee from all evil."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument considers corporal almsdeeds as to their
substance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: He who gives an alms does rot intend to buy a spiritual
thing with a corporal thing, for he knows that spiritual things
infinitely surpass corporal things, but he intends to merit a spiritual
fruit through the love of charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The widow who gave less in quantity, gave more in
proportion; and thus we gather that the fervor of her charity, whence
corporal almsdeeds derive their spiritual efficacy, was greater.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether almsgiving is a matter of precept?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that almsgiving is not a matter of precept. For the
counsels are distinct from the precepts. Now almsgiving is a matter of
counsel, according to Dan. 4:24: "Let my counsel be acceptable to the
King; [Vulg.: 'to thee, and'] redeem thou thy sins with alms." Therefore
almsgiving is not a matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is lawful for everyone to use and to keep what is his
own. Yet by keeping it he will not give alms. Therefore it is lawful not
to give alms: and consequently almsgiving is not a matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, whatever is a matter of precept binds the transgressor
at some time or other under pain of mortal sin, because positive precepts
are binding for some fixed time. Therefore, if almsgiving were a matter
of precept, it would be possible to point to some fixed time when a man
would commit a mortal sin unless he gave an alms. But it does not appear
how this can be so, because it can always be deemed probable that the
person in need can be relieved in some other way, and that what we would
spend in almsgiving might be needful to ourselves either now or in some
future time. Therefore it seems that almsgiving is not a matter of
precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, every commandment is reducible to the precepts of the
Decalogue. But these precepts contain no reference to almsgiving.
Therefore almsgiving is not a matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, No man is punished eternally for omitting to do what is
not a matter of precept. But some are punished eternally for omitting to
give alms, as is clear from Mt. 25:41-43. Therefore almsgiving is a
matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As love of our neighbor is a matter of precept, whatever
is a necessary condition to the love of our neighbor is a matter of
precept also. Now the love of our neighbor requires that not only should
we be our neighbor's well-wishers, but also his well-doers, according to
1 Jn. 3:18: "Let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in
truth." And in order to be a person's well-wisher and well-doer, we ought
to succor his needs: this is done by almsgiving. Therefore almsgiving is
a matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Body Para. 2/3

Since, however, precepts are about acts of virtue, it follows that all
almsgiving must be a matter of precept, in so far as it is necessary to
virtue, namely, in so far as it is demanded by right reason. Now right
reason demands that we should take into consideration something on the
part of the giver, and something on the part of the recipient. On the
part of the giver, it must be noted that he should give of his surplus,
according to Lk. 11:41: "That which remaineth, give alms." This surplus
is to be taken in reference not only to himself, so as to denote what is
unnecessary to the individual, but also in reference to those of whom he
has charge (in which case we have the expression "necessary to the
person" [*The official necessities of a person in position] taking the
word "person" as expressive of dignity). Because each one must first of
all look after himself and then after those over whom he has charge, and
afterwards with what remains relieve the needs of others. Thus nature
first, by its nutritive power, takes what it requires for the upkeep of
one's own body, and afterwards yields the residue for the formation of
another by the power of generation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] Body Para. 3/3

On the part of the recipient it is requisite that he should be in need,
else there would be no reason for giving him alms: yet since it is not
possible for one individual to relieve the needs of all, we are not bound
to relieve all who are in need, but only those who could not be succored
if we not did succor them. For in such cases the words of Ambrose apply,
"Feed him that dies of hunger: if thou hast not fed him, thou hast slain
him" [*Cf. Canon Pasce, dist. lxxxvi, whence the words, as quoted, are
taken]. Accordingly we are bound to give alms of our surplus, as also to
give alms to one whose need is extreme: otherwise almsgiving, like any
other greater good, is a matter of counsel.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Daniel spoke to a king who was not subject to God's Law,
wherefore such things as were prescribed by the Law which he did not
profess, had to be counselled to him. Or he may have been speaking in
reference to a case in which almsgiving was not a matter of precept.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The temporal goods which God grants us, are ours as to the
ownership, but as to the use of them, they belong not to us alone but
also to such others as we are able to succor out of what we have over and
above our needs. Hence Basil says [*Hom. super Luc. xii, 18]: "If you
acknowledge them," viz. your temporal goods, "as coming from God, is He
unjust because He apportions them unequally? Why are you rich while
another is poor, unless it be that you may have the merit of a good
stewardship, and he the reward of patience? It is the hungry man's bread
that you withhold, the naked man's cloak that you have stored away, the
shoe of the barefoot that you have left to rot, the money of the needy
that you have buried underground: and so you injure as many as you might
help." Ambrose expresses himself in the same way.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: There is a time when we sin mortally if we omit to give
alms; on the part of the recipient when we see that his need is evident
and urgent, and that he is not likely to be succored otherwise - on the
part of the giver, when he has superfluous goods, which he does not need
for the time being, as far as he can judge with probability. Nor need he
consider every case that may possibly occur in the future, for this would
be to think about the morrow, which Our Lord forbade us to do (Mt. 6:34),
but he should judge what is superfluous and what necessary, according as
things probably and generally occur.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[5] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: All succor given to our neighbor is reduced to the precept
about honoring our parents. For thus does the Apostle interpret it (1
Tim. 4:8) where he says: "Dutifulness* [Douay: 'Godliness'] is profitable
to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which
is to come," and he says this because the precept about honoring our
parents contains the promise, "that thou mayest be longlived upon the
land" (Ex. 20:12): and dutifulness comprises all kinds of almsgiving.
[*"Pietas," whence our English word "Piety." Cf. also inf. Q[101], A[2].]


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one ought to give alms out of what one needs?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that one ought not to give alms out of what one
needs. For the order of charity should be observed not only as regards
the effect of our benefactions but also as regards our interior
affections. Now it is a sin to contravene the order of charity, because
this order is a matter of precept. Since, then, the order of charity
requires that a man should love himself more than his neighbor, it seems
that he would sin if he deprived himself of what he needed, in order to
succor his neighbor.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, whoever gives away what he needs himself, squanders his
own substance, and that is to be a prodigal, according to the Philosopher
(Ethic. iv, 1). But no sinful deed should be done. Therefore we should
not give alms out of what we need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Apostle says (1 Tim. 5:8): "If any man have not care
of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the
faith, and is worse than an infidel." Now if a man gives of what he needs
for himself or for his charge, he seems to detract from the care he
should have for himself or his charge. Therefore it seems that whoever
gives alms from what he needs, sins gravely.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Our Lord said (Mt. 19:21): "If thou wilt be perfect,
go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor." Now he that gives all he
has to the poor, gives not only what he needs not, but also what he
needs. Therefore a man may give alms out of what he needs.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, A thing is necessary in two ways: first, because without
it something is impossible, and it is altogether wrong to give alms out
of what is necessary to us in this sense; for instance, if a man found
himself in the presence of a case of urgency, and had merely sufficient
to support himself and his children, or others under his charge, he would
be throwing away his life and that of others if he were to give away in
alms, what was then necessary to him. Yet I say this without prejudice to
such a case as might happen, supposing that by depriving himself of
necessaries a man might help a great personage, and a support of the
Church or State, since it would be a praiseworthy act to endanger one's
life and the lives of those who are under our charge for the delivery of
such a person, since the common good is to be preferred to one's own.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, a thing is said to be necessary, if a man cannot without it
live in keeping with his social station, as regards either himself or
those of whom he has charge. The "necessary" considered thus is not an
invariable quantity, for one might add much more to a man's property, and
yet not go beyond what he needs in this way, or one might take much from
him, and he would still have sufficient for the decencies of life in
keeping with his own position. Accordingly it is good to give alms of
this kind of "necessary"; and it is a matter not of precept but of
counsel. Yet it would be inordinate to deprive oneself of one's own, in
order to give to others to such an extent that the residue would be
insufficient for one to live in keeping with one's station and the
ordinary occurrences of life: for no man ought to live unbecomingly.
There are, however, three exceptions to the above rule. The first is when
a man changes his state of life, for instance, by entering religion, for
then he gives away all his possessions for Christ's sake, and does the
deed of perfection by transferring himself to another state. Secondly,
when that which he deprives himself of, though it be required for the
decencies of life, can nevertheless easily be recovered, so that he does
not suffer extreme inconvenience. Thirdly, when he is in presence of
extreme indigence in an individual, or great need on the part of the
common weal. For in such cases it would seem praiseworthy to forego the
requirements of one's station, in order to provide for a greater need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[6] Body Para. 3/3

The objections may be easily solved from what has been said.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one may give alms out of ill-gotten goods?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that one may give alms out of ill-gotten goods. For
it is written (Lk. 16:9): "Make unto you friends of the mammon of
iniquity." Now mammon signifies riches. Therefore it is lawful to make
unto oneself spiritual friends by giving alms out of ill-gotten riches.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, all filthy lucre seems to be ill-gotten. But the profits
from whoredom are filthy lucre; wherefore it was forbidden (Dt. 23:18) to
offer therefrom sacrifices or oblations to God: "Thou shalt not offer the
hire of a strumpet . . . in the house of . . . thy God." In like manner
gains from games of chance are ill-gotten, for, as the Philosopher says
(Ethic. iv, 1), "we take such like gains from our friends to whom we
ought rather to give." And most of all are the profits from simony
ill-gotten, since thereby the Holy Ghost is wronged. Nevertheless out of
such gains it is lawful to give alms. Therefore one may give alms out of
ill-gotten goods.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, greater evils should be avoided more than lesser evils.
Now it is less sinful to keep back another's property than to commit murder, of which a man is guilty if he fails to succor one who is in
extreme need, as appears from the words of Ambrose who says (Cf. Canon
Pasce dist. lxxxvi, whence the words, as quoted, are taken): "Feed him
that dies of hunger, if thou hast not fed him, thou hast slain him".
Therefore, in certain cases, it is lawful to give alms of ill-gotten
goods.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. xxxv, 2): "Give alms from
your just labors. For you will not bribe Christ your judge, not to hear
you with the poor whom you rob . . . Give not alms from interest and
usury: I speak to the faithful to whom we dispense the Body of Christ."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, A thing may be ill-gotten in three ways. In the first
place a thing is ill-gotten if it be due to the person from whom it is
gotten, and may not be kept by the person who has obtained possession of
it; as in the case of rapine, theft and usury, and of such things a man
may not give alms since he is bound to restore them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, a thing is ill-gotten, when he that has it may not keep it,
and yet he may not return it to the person from whom he received it,
because he received it unjustly, while the latter gave it unjustly. This
happens in simony, wherein both giver and receiver contravene the justice
of the Divine Law, so that restitution is to be made not to the giver,
but by giving alms. The same applies to all similar cases of illegal
giving and receiving.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] Body Para. 3/3

Thirdly, a thing is ill-gotten, not because the taking was unlawful, but
because it is the outcome of something unlawful, as in the case of a
woman's profits from whoredom. This is filthy lucre properly so called,
because the practice of whoredom is filthy and against the Law of God,
yet the woman does not act unjustly or unlawfully in taking the money.
Consequently it is lawful to keep and to give in alms what is thus
acquired by an unlawful action.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. 2), "Some have
misunderstood this saying of Our Lord, so as to take another's property
and give thereof to the poor, thinking that they are fulfilling the
commandment by so doing. This interpretation must be amended. Yet all
riches are called riches of iniquity, as stated in De Quaest. Ev. ii, 34,
because "riches are not unjust save for those who are themselves unjust,
and put all their trust in them. Or, according to Ambrose in his
commentary on Lk. 16:9, "Make unto yourselves friends," etc., "He calls
mammon unjust, because it draws our affections by the various allurements
of wealth." Or, because "among the many ancestors whose property you
inherit, there is one who took the property of others unjustly, although
you know nothing about it," as Basil says in a homily (Hom. super Luc. A,
5). Or, all riches are styled riches "of iniquity," i.e., of
"inequality," because they are not distributed equally among all, one
being in need, and another in affluence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: We have already explained how alms may be given out of the
profits of whoredom. Yet sacrifices and oblations were not made therefrom
at the altar, both on account of the scandal, and through reverence for
sacred things. It is also lawful to give alms out of the profits of
simony, because they are not due to him who paid, indeed he deserves to
lose them. But as to the profits from games of chance, there would seem
to be something unlawful as being contrary to the Divine Law, when a man
wins from one who cannot alienate his property, such as minors, lunatics
and so forth, or when a man, with the desire of making money out of
another man, entices him to play, and wins from him by cheating. In these
cases he is bound to restitution, and consequently cannot give away his
gains in alms. Then again there would seem to be something unlawful as
being against the positive civil law, which altogether forbids any such
profits. Since, however, a civil law does not bind all, but only those
who are subject to that law, and moreover may be abrogated through
desuetude, it follows that all such as are bound by these laws are bound
to make restitution of such gains, unless perchance the contrary custom
prevail, or unless a man win from one who enticed him to play, in which
case he is not bound to restitution, because the loser does not deserve
to be paid back: and yet he cannot lawfully keep what he has won, so long
as that positive law is in force, wherefore in this case he ought to give
it away in alms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: All things are common property in a case of extreme
necessity. Hence one who is in such dire straits may take another's goods
in order to succor himself, if he can find no one who is willing to give
him something. For the same reason a man may retain what belongs to
another, and give alms thereof; or even take something if there be no
other way of succoring the one who is in need. If however this be
possible without danger, he must ask the owner's consent, and then succor
the poor man who is in extreme necessity.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one who is under another's power can give alms?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that one who is under another's power can give
alms. For religious are under the power of their prelates to whom they
have vowed obedience. Now if it were unlawful for them to give alms, they
would lose by entering the state of religion, for as Ambrose [*The
quotation is from the works of Ambrosiaster. Cf. Index to ecclesiastical
authorities quoted by St. Thomas] says on 1 Tim. 4:8: "'Dutifulness
[Douay: 'godliness'] is profitable to all things': The sum total of the
Christian religion consists in doing one's duty by all," and the most
creditable way of doing this is to give alms. Therefore those who are in
another's power can give alms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a wife is under her husband's power (Gn. 3:16). But a
wife can give alms since she is her husband's partner; hence it is
related of the Blessed Lucy that she gave alms without the knowledge of
her betrothed [*"Sponsus" The matrimonial institutions of the Romans were
so entirely different from ours that "sponsus" is no longer accurately
rendered either "husband" or "betrothed."] Therefore a person is not
prevented from giving alms, by being under another's power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the subjection of children to their parents is founded
on nature, wherefore the Apostle says (Eph. 6:1): "Children, obey your
parents in the Lord." But, apparently, children may give alms out of
their parents' property. For it is their own, since they are the heirs;
wherefore, since they can employ it for some bodily use, it seems that
much more can they use it in giving alms so as to profit their souls.
Therefore those who are under another's power can give alms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, servants are under their master's power, according to
Titus 2:9: "Exhort servants to be obedient to their masters." Now they
may lawfully do anything that will profit their masters: and this would
be especially the case if they gave alms for them. Therefore those who
are under another's power can give alms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Alms should not be given out of another's property; and
each one should give alms out of the just profit of his own labor as
Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. xxxv, 2). Now if those who are subject to
anyone were to give alms, this would be out of another's property.
Therefore those who are under another's power cannot give alms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Anyone who is under another's power must, as such, be
ruled in accordance with the power of his superior: for the natural order
demands that the inferior should be ruled according to its superior.
Therefore in those matters in which the inferior is subject to his
superior, his ministrations must be subject to the superior's permission.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] Body Para. 2/2

Accordingly he that is under another's power must not give alms of
anything in respect of which he is subject to that other, except in so
far as he has been commissioned by his superior. But if he has something
in respect of which he is not under the power of his superior, he is no
longer subject to another in its regard, being independent in respect of
that particular thing, and he can give alms therefrom.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: If a monk be dispensed through being commissioned by his
superior, he can give alms from the property of his monaster, in accordance with the terms of his commission; but if he has no such
dispensation, since he has nothing of his own, he cannot give alms
without his abbot's permission either express or presumed for some
probable reason: except in a case of extreme necessity, when it would be
lawful for him to commit a theft in order to give an alms. Nor does it
follow that he is worse off than before, because, as stated in De Eccles.
Dogm. lxxi, "it is a good thing to give one's property to the poor little
by little, but it is better still to give all at once in order to follow
Christ, and being freed from care, to be needy with Christ."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A wife, who has other property besides her dowry which is
for the support of the burdens of marriage, whether that property be
gained by her own industry or by any other lawful means, can give alms,
out of that property, without asking her husband's permission: yet such
alms should be moderate, lest through giving too much she impoverish her
husband. Otherwise she ought not to give alms without the express or
presumed consent of her husband, except in cases of necessity as stated,
in the case of a monk, in the preceding Reply. For though the wife be her
husband's equal in the marriage act, yet in matters of housekeeping, the
head of the woman is the man, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 11:3). As
regards Blessed Lucy, she had a betrothed, not a husband, wherefore she
could give alms with her mother's consent.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: What belongs to the children belongs also to the father:
wherefore the child cannot give alms, except in such small quantity that
one may presume the father to be willing: unless, perchance, the father
authorize his child to dispose of any particular property. The same
applies to servants. Hence the Reply to the Fourth Objection is clear.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one ought to give alms to those rather who are more closely
united to us?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that one ought not to give alms to those rather who
are more closely united to us. For it is written (Ecclus. 12:4,6): "Give
to the merciful and uphold not the sinner . . . Do good to the humble and
give not to the ungodly." Now it happens sometimes that those who are
closely united to us are sinful and ungodly. Therefore we ought not to
give alms to them in preference to others.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, alms should be given that we may receive an eternal
reward in return, according to Mt. 6:18: "And thy Father Who seeth in
secret, will repay thee." Now the eternal reward is gained chiefly by the
alms which are given to the saints, according to Lk. 16:9: "Make unto
you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may
receive you into everlasting dwellings, which passage Augustine expounds
(De Verb. Dom. xxxv, 1): "Who shall have everlasting dwellings unless the
saints of God? And who are they that shall be received by them into their
dwellings, if not those who succor them in their needs? Therefore alms
should be given to the more holy persons rather than to those who are
more closely united to us.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, man is more closely united to himself. But a man cannot
give himself an alms. Therefore it seems that we are not bound to give
alms to those who are most closely united to us.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Tim. 5:8): "If any man have not
care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the
faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 28), "it falls to
us by lot, as it were, to have to look to the welfare of those who are
more closely united to us." Nevertheless in this matter we must employ
discretion, according to the various degrees of connection, holiness and
utility. For we ought to give alms to one who is much holier and in
greater want, and to one who is more useful to the common weal, rather
than to one who is more closely united to us, especially if the latter be
not very closely united, and has no special claim on our care then and
there, and who is not in very urgent need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: We ought not to help a sinner as such, that is by
encouraging him to sin, but as man, that is by supporting his nature.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Almsdeeds deserve on two counts to receive an eternal
reward. First because they are rooted in charity, and in this respect an
almsdeed is meritorious in so far as it observes the order of charity,
which requires that, other things being equal, we should, in preference,
help those who are more closely connected with us. Wherefore Ambrose says
(De Officiis i, 30): "It is with commendable liberality that you forget
not your kindred, if you know them to be in need, for it is better that
you should yourself help your own family, who would be ashamed to beg
help from others." Secondly, almsdeeds deserve to be rewarded eternally,
through the merit of the recipient, who prays for the giver, and it is in
this sense that Augustine is speaking.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[9] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Since almsdeeds are works of mercy, just as a man does not,
properly speaking, pity himself, but only by a kind of comparison, as
stated above (Q[30], AA[1],2), so too, properly speaking, no man gives
himself an alms, unless he act in another's person; thus when a man is
appointed to distribute alms, he can take something for himself, if he be
in want, on the same ground as when he gives to others.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether alms should be given in abundance?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that alms should not be given in abundance. For we
ought to give alms to those chiefly who are most closely connected with
us. But we ought not to give to them in such a way that they are likely
to become richer thereby, as Ambrose says (De Officiis i, 30). Therefore
neither should we give abundantly to others.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Officiis i, 30): "We should not lavish
our wealth on others all at once, we should dole it out by degrees." But
to give abundantly is to give lavishly. Therefore alms should not be
given in abundance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Apostle says (2 Cor. 8:13): "Not that others should
be eased," i.e. should live on you without working themselves, "and you
burthened," i.e. impoverished. But this would be the result if alms were
given in abundance. Therefore we ought not to give alms abundantly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Tobias 4:93): "If thou have much, give
abundantly."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Alms may be considered abundant in relation either to the
giver, or to the recipient: in relation to the giver, when that which a
man gives is great as compared with his means. To give thus is
praiseworthy, wherefore Our Lord (Lk. 21:3,4) commended the widow because
"of her want, she cast in all the living that she had." Nevertheless those conditions must be observed which were laid down when we spoke of
giving alms out of one's necessary goods (A[9]).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] Body Para. 2/2

On the part of the recipient, an alms may be abundant in two ways;
first, by relieving his need sufficiently, and in this sense it is
praiseworthy to give alms: secondly, by relieving his need more than
sufficiently; this is not praiseworthy, and it would be better to give to
several that are in need, wherefore the Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:3): "If I
should distribute . . . to feed the poor," on which words a gloss
comments: "Thus we are warned to be careful in giving alms, and to give,
not to one only, but to many, that we may profit many."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument considers abundance of alms as exceeding the
needs of the recipient.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The passage quoted considers abundance of alms on the part
of the giver; but the sense is that God does not wish a man to lavish all
his wealth at once, except when he changes his state of life, wherefore
he goes on to say: "Except we imitate Eliseus who slew his oxen and fed
the poor with what he had, so that no household cares might keep him
back" (3 Kgs. 19:21).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] R.O. 3 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 3: In the passage quoted the words, "not that others should be
eased or refreshed," refer to that abundance of alms which surpasses the
need of the recipient, to whom one should give alms not that he may have
an easy life, but that he may have relief. Nevertheless we must bring
discretion to bear on the matter, on account of the various conditions of
men, some of whom are more daintily nurtured, and need finer food and
clothing. Hence Ambrose says (De Officiis i, 30): "When you give an alms
to a man, you should take into consideration his age and his weakness;
and sometimes the shame which proclaims his good birth; and again that
perhaps he has fallen from riches to indigence through no fault of his
own."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[32] A[10] R.O. 3 Para. 2/2

With regard to the words that follow, "and you burdened," they refer to
abundance on the part of the giver. Yet, as a gloss says on the same
passage, "he says this, not because it would be better to give in
abundance, but because he fears for the weak, and he admonishes them so
to give that they lack not for themselves."





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