We live in a century which is full of coldness and death in the life of the spirit. Everything is closed upon itself, only pleasure, vanity, passions and the life of this world is to be seen, and nothing else. Who will give life to this generation which is dead to the life of God, if not the breath of charity of Jesus Christ? The face of the earth will be renewed with the warmth of Spring; but the moral world will only have new life with the warmth of love.
Therefore, we must ask God not for a spark of Charity, as the Imitation of Christ says, but for a furnace of Charity to set us on fire and to renew this cold, frozen world, with the help of the grace that the Lord will give to us.
We will have a great Catholic renewal if we have great charity. We must, however, exercise it among ourselves today, and cultivate it in the heart of our Institutions, which must be real cenacles of charity. Nemo dat quod non habet [you cannot give what you do not have] :we will not give souls the flames of life and the fire and light of Charity, if we, ourselves, are not on fire, very much on fire...
Charity must be our impetus, our passion and our life: we are the garibaldini [soldiers] of the charity of Jesus Christ. I find it most unpleasant to have to use that name in such a holy, pure and divine matter; but that was the best way of expressing myself.
The cause of God and His Church can only be served by a great Charity of life, and of works. We will not get through to consciences, nor will we convert the youth, nor will we draw people to the Church, without great Charity, and a real sacrificing of ourselves, in the charity of Christ.
There is a terrible corruption in society; there is a dreadful ignorance of God; there is a materialism, a frightening hatred: only charity can still lead hearts and populations to God, and save them.
But no movement is of any use, or not much use, unless it has possession of the young people, of the schools and of the Press; it is necessary to make ourselves ready by a great love of God, and fill our hearts and veins with the charity of Jesus Christ; otherwise, we will do nothing: we will open up a deep furrow if we have a deep love. What would St. Paul have ever done without charity? What would St. Vincent de Paul have done without charity? What would St. Francis Xavier have done without charity? What would Cottolengo have done without charity? What would venerable Don Bosco have done? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing without charity!
Without charity we would have neither the Apostles, nor the Martyrs, nor the Confessors, nor the Saints. Without charity we would not have the Priesthood which is together the mission, fruit and flowering of divine charity. It is the spirit of God, which is the spirit of heavenly charity, which must bring us to foster in young people holy religious vocations and future priests. This is because many schools and much renewal of souls and of works will only flourish through the priesthood and the religious life.
What will we do when we become old and already we are worn-out, if we have no one to continue the work? I think of you, day and night, and groan not so much at human misery, as when I see the vocations crisis in the Church. Ah! St. Vincent de Paul sold himself to ransom a slave; would we be indifferent and cool in our work of giving to the Church and to souls good priests who would continue the apostolate of Jesus Christ? Or giving our Congregation sons and saints to continue the works, begun by us with God’s help - and wrestlers for the Faith in the charity and service of the Church and of souls?
Let us use a great part of our charity in fostering vocations. First of all, we must renew and transform the hearts of our young people in charity, renew them and transform them in Jesus Christ, and must inflame ourselves with the love of Jesus if we want them to be inflamed; everything will revive if we zealously hold high in our hands and in our hearts the light of the charity of Jesus Christ.
A large number of souls will rise around us and give a fruitful and marvellous splendour to the Church of Jesus Christ Our Lord, if we pray and work in this way.
The Lord will not consider us according to our misery and sins, but according to the greatness of His goodness and the multitude of His mercies. And He will answer the prayer of us, His poor servants, if we have and live in His charity; and from the stock of His grace He will guide us in the way of peace and self-sacrifice at the feet of this, His Holy Church of Rome, which is our mother and the Mother of the living; and the Lord will bless our steps and those of our Congregation, and, with heavenly blessing, cause it to spread the God’s dwelling place; and the very ends of the earth will become our home, if we are humble and faithful sons of the Church of Rome, and if we live with limitless charity of Jesus Christ, seeking only Jesus Christ and His kingdom, that is to say, souls, souls and souls!
What will make the Congregation live and prosper will be charity, that great, sweetest and strongest love of God, together with that of His Church and of souls. God will be over it, if the spirit of God, which is charity, is in it.
The Congregation, and each one of us, must live, not for ourselves, but for charity and for the Church of Rome, which is the Mystical Body of the Lord and the Mother of souls and of the saints.
Each of us must not live for ourselves, but each for all the brothers, in the love of the Lord. We are united in Christ to live each one for all, and not each one for himself. We only live for charity and for the Church; only thus do we become real Sons of Divine Providence, and God will live in us, if we live in Him and from Him, through love and in union with His Church.
From a letter of 2-5-1920,
Letters Bk. I, 180-184