Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/726

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670

CHARITY

AND

CHARITIES

affect social conditions seriously one way or the other others and puts a premium on it, even though in fact it When we measure the effects of charity, this inheritance of were done, not with any definite object, but really for the divided thought and inconsistent counsels must be given good of the penitent. Thus almsgiving becomes detached its full weight. from charity on the one side and from social good on The sub - apostolic church was a congregation, like a the other. Still further is it vulgarized by another con- synagogue, the centre of a system of voluntary and fusion of thought. It is considered that the alms are paid personal relief, connected with the congregational to the credit of the giver, and are realized as such by him meals (or agapai) and the Eucharist, and under /The^/ / za on D in the after-world ; or even that by alms present prosperity the supervision of no single officer or bishop, the parish may be obtained, or at least evil accident avoided. _ Thus Out of this was developed a system of relief conmotives were blended, as indeed they now are, with the trolled by a bishop, who was assisted chiefly by charities. result that the gift assumed a greater importance than the deacons or presbyters, while the agapai, consist_ charity, by which alone the gift should have been sanctified ino' of offerings laid before the altar, still remained. and its actual effect was habitually overlooked or treated Subsequently the meal was separated from the sacrament, as only partially relevant. , and became a dole of food, or poor people’s meal e.g., in (3) The Christian maxim of “loving {agape) ones St Augustine’s time in Western Africa—and it wa,s not neighbour as one’s self ” sets a standard of charity. Its allowed to be served in churches (a.d. 391). As religious relations are idealized according as the “self” is under- asceticism became dominant, the sacrament was taken stood • and thus the good self becomes the measure of fasting ; it appeared unseemly that men and women should •charity In this sense, the nobler the self the completer meet together for such purposes, and the agapai fell out the charity; and the charity of the best men, men who of repute. Simultaneously it would seem that the parish love (and understand) their neighbours best, having regard (paroichia) became from a congregational settlement a to their chief good, is the best, the most effectual charity. geographical area. Further, if in what we consider “ best ” we give but a lesser The organization of relief at Rome illustrates both a place to social purpose, or even allow it no place at all, type of administration and a transition. St Gregory s our “self” will have no sufficient social aim and our reforms (a.d. 590) largely developed it The parochial charity little or no social result. For this “ self,” however, system had been adopted probably about the middle of the religion has substituted not St Paul’s conception of the 3rd century, but the diaconate probably remained centralspirit {pneuma), but a soul, conceived as endowed with a ized. At the end of the 4th century Pope Anastasius substantial nature, able to enjoy and suffer quasi-material had founded deaconries in Rome, and endowed them rewards and punishments in the after-life; and m so far largely “ to meet the frequent demands of the diaconate. as the safeguard of this soul by good deeds or almsgiving Gregory two hundred years later reorganized the system. has become a paramount object, the purpose of charitable He divided the fourteen old “ regions ” into seven ecclesiaction has been translated from the actual world to another astical districts and thirty “titles” (or parishes). Ihe sphere. Thus, as we have seen, the aid of the poor has parishes were under the charge of sixty-six priests ; the been considered not an object in itself, but as a means by districts were eleemosynary divisions. Each was placed which the almsgiver effects his own ulterior purpose an under the charge of a deacon, not (Greg. Ep.^-i. and “makes God his debtor.” The problem thus handled xxviii.) under the priests {presbyteri titulani). Over the raises the question of reward and also of punishment. deacons was an archdeacon. It was the duty of the Properly, from the point of view of charity, both are deacons to care for the poor, widows, orphans, wards, and excluded. We may indeed act from a complexity of old people of their several districts. They inquired in motives and expect a complexity of rewards, and un- regard to those who were relieved, and drew up under the doubtedly a good act does refresh the “ self, and may as guidance of the bishop the register of poor {matmcula). a result, though not as a reward, win approval. But in Only these received regular relief. In each district was reality reward, if the word be used at all, is according to an hospital or office for alms, of which the deacon had purpose; and the only reward of a deed lies m the fulfil- charge, assisted by a steward (or oeconomus). Here food ment of its purpose. In the theory of almsgiving which was given and meals were taken, the sick and poor were we are discussing, however, act and reward are on different maintained, and orphan or foundling children lodged. planes. The reward is on that of a future life; the act The churches of Rome and of other large towns possessed relates to a distressed person here and now. The interest considerable estates, “the patrimony of the patron saints in the act on the doer’s part lies in its post-mortal con- and to Rome belonged estates in Sicily which had not sequences to himself, and not either who ly or chiefly m been ravaged by the invaders, and they continued to pay the act itself. Nor, as the interest ends with the act to it their tenth of corn, as they had done since Sicily was —the giving—can the intelligence be quickened by it. conquered. Four times a year (Milman, Lat. Christ, n. The questions “How? by whom? with what object? on 117) the shares of the (1) clergy and papal officers, (2) what plan? with what result?” receive no detailed con- churches and monasteries, and (3) “hospitals deaconries, sideration at all. Two general results follow. In so far and ecclesiastical wards for the poor,” were calculated m as it is thus practised, almsgiving is out of sympathy with money and distributed; and the first day in every month social progress. It is indeed alien to it. Next also the St Gregory distributed to the poor m kind corn, wine self-contained, self-sustained poverty that will have no cheese, vegetables, bacon, meal, fish, and oil. The sick and relief and does without it, is outside the range of its infirm were superintended by persons appointed to inspect thought and understanding. On the other hand, this every street. Before the pope sat down to his own meal almsgiving is equally incapable of influencing the weak a portion was separated and sent out to the hungry a is and the vicious; and those who are suffering from illness door. The Roman plebs had thus become the poor, ol or trouble it has not the width of vision to under- Christ (pauperes Christi), and under that tit e were e^nS stand nor the moral energy to support so that they shall fed by civica annona and sportula as their ancestors^ ha not fall out of the ranks of the self-supporting. It believes been; and the deaconries had superseded the “regions and that “the poor” will not cease out of the land. And the “ steps ” from which the corn had been distributed. Ill indeed, however great might be the economic progress of hospitium was now part of a common organization of reliei, the people, it is not likely that the poor will cease, if the and the sick were visited according to Jewish and ear y alms given in this spirit be large enough in amount to