Primacy of charity
13:1 Si linguis hominum loquar, et angelorum, caritatem autem non habeam, factus sum velut aes sonans, aut cymbalum tinniens. [n. 759]
13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [n. 759]
13:2 Et si habuero prophetiam, et noverim mysteria omnia, et omnem scientiam: et si habuero omnem fidem ita ut montes transferam, caritatem autem non habuero, nihil sum. [n. 764]
13:2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [n. 764]
13:3 Et si distribuero in cibos pauperum omnes facultates meas, et si tradidero corpus meum ita ut ardeam, caritatem autem non habuero, nihil mihi prodest. [n. 768]
13:3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing. [n. 768]
759. Apostolus gratiarum gratis datarum distinctionem assignavit, et ministrationum in quibus membra Ecclesiae distinguuntur, hic agit de caritate, quae inseparabiliter concomitatur gratiam gratum facientem. Et quia promiserat eis se demonstraturum viam excellentiorem, ostendit praeeminentiam caritatis ad caetera gratuita dona. Et
759. Having assigned the differences among charismatic graces and the ministries in which the members of the Church are distinguished, the Apostle now deals with charity, which is inseparably connected with sanctifying grace. And because he had promised to show them a more excellent way, he shows how charity outranks the others, i.e., the charismatic graces.
primo quantum ad necessitatem, quia scilicet sine caritate alia dona gratuita non sufficiunt;
First, in regard to its necessity, namely, because without charity the other gifts are not enough;
secundo quantum ad utilitatem, quia scilicet per caritatem omnia mala vitantur, et omnia bona aguntur, ibi caritas patiens est, etc.;
second, as to their utility, namely, because through charity all evils are avoided and good is performed, at charity is patient (1 Cor 13:4);
tertio quantum ad permanentiam, ibi caritas numquam excidit, et cetera.
third, as to its permanence, at charity never falls away (1 Cor 13:8).
Omnia autem dona gratuita reducere videtur Apostolus ad tria. Nam
But all the charismatic gifts seem to be reduced to three by the Apostle:
primo ostendit quod donum linguarum, quod pertinet ad locutionem, sine caritate non valet;
for, first, he shows that the gift of tongues, which pertains to speech, is of no value without charity;
secundo quod etiam non valent ea quae pertinent ad cognitionem, ibi et si habuero prophetiam, etc.;
second, that those which pertain to knowledge are of no value without charity, at and if I should have prophecy;
tertio ostendit idem de his quae pertinent ad operationem, ibi et si distribuero in cibos pauperum, et cetera.
third, he shows the same for the gifts which pertain to works, at and if I should distribute.
760. Erat autem apud Corinthios multum desiderabile donum linguarum, ut infra c. XIV T. patebit; et ideo, ab eo incipiens, dicit: promisi me demonstraturum excellentiorem viam, et hoc primo patet in dono linguarum, quia si linguis hominum, scilicet omnium, loquar, id est, si habuero donum gratiae, per quod loqui possim linguis omnium hominum; et ad maiorem abundantiam subdit et angelorum: caritatem autem non habeam, factus sum velut aes sonans aut cymbalum tinniens.
760. The Corinthians had a great desire for the gift of tongues, as will be shown below (1 Cor 14); therefore, beginning with that he says: I have promised to show you a more excellent way; and this is, first of all, clear in the gift of tongues, because, if I speak with the tongues of men, namely, of all, i.e., if I should have the gift through which I could speak in the languages of all men; and for greater abundance he adds: and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Recta comparatione utitur. Anima enim per caritatem vivit quae vivit Deo, qui est animae vita, secundum illud Deut. XXX, 20: ipse est vita tua. Unde et I Io. III, 14 dicitur: translati sumus de morte ad vitam, quoniam diligimus fratres; qui non diligit manet in morte.
He uses the right comparison. For the soul lives through charity, which lives through God, who is the life of the soul (Deut 30:20): he is your life. Hence, too, it is said: we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14).
761. Recte ergo comparat loquelam caritate carentem, sono rei mortuae, scilicet aeris aut cymbali, qui licet clarum sonum reddat, non tamen est vivus sed mortuus. Ita etiam locutio hominis caritate carentis, quantumcumque sit diserta, tamen habetur pro mortua, quia non proficit ad meritum vitae aeternae.
761. Correctly, therefore, does he compare speech without charity to the sound of a dead thing, namely, a brass gong and a cymbal, which, although they produce a clear sound, are not living but dead. So, too, the speech of a man without charity, no matter how erudite, is considered dead, because it does not yield merit for eternal life.
Est autem differentia inter aes sonans et cymbalum tinniens, quia aes, cum sit planum, ex percussione simplicem sonum emittit; cymbalum autem, cum sit concavum, ex una percussione sonum multiplicat, quod pertinet ad tinnitum. Aeri ergo comparantur qui veritatem simpliciter pronuntiant, cymbalo vero qui veritatem multiplicant et pronuntiant, multas rationes et similitudines apponendo, et conclusiones plurimas eliciendo, quae tamen omnia sine caritate habentur ut mortua.
There is a difference between a sounding brass gong and a tinkling cymbal, because brass, since it is flat, gives forth a simple sound, when it is struck; but a cymbal, since it is concave, when it is struck once, multiples the sound, which pertains to clanging. To brass, therefore, are compared those who pronounce the truth simply, but to the cymbal those who multiply the truth and present it by adding many reasons and similitudes and by drawing very many connections: all of which, without charity, are regarded as dead.
762. Considerandum est autem quae linguae angelorum dicantur. Nam cum lingua sit membrum corporeum et ad eius usum pertineat donum linguarum, quod interdum lingua dicitur, ut patebit infra XVI, neutrum videtur angelis competere qui membra non habent.
762. But it should be noted what is meant by the tongues of angels. For since the tongue is a bodily member and to its use pertains the gift of tongues, which is sometimes called a tongue, as will be clear below (1 Cor 16), it neither seems to belong to angels, who do not have members.
Potest ergo dici quod per angelos intelliguntur homines angelorum officium habentes, qui scilicet aliis hominibus divina annuntiant, secundum illud Mal. II, 7: labia sacerdotis custodiunt scientiam, et legem requirunt ex ore eius, quia angelus Domini exercituum est. Sub hoc ergo sensu dicitur si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum, id est non solum minorum sed etiam maiorum qui alios docent.
Therefore, it can be said that by angels are understood men with the office of angels, namely, who announce divine things to other men: the lips of the priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord of hosts (Mal 2:7). Therefore, under this sense, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, i.e., not only of the lesser but even of the greater who teach others.
Potest etiam intelligi de ipsis incorporeis angelis, prout in Ps. CIII, 4 dicitur: qui facit angelos suos spiritus. Et quamvis non habeant linguam corpoream, per similitudinem tamen lingua in eis dici potest vis, qua manifestant aliis quod habent in mente.
It can also be understood of the incorporeal angel, as it is said: who makes your angels spirits (Ps 104:4). And although they do no have a bodily tongue, by a likeness the power by which they manifest their thoughts to others can be called a tongue.
763. Est autem sciendum quod in cognitione mentis angelicae aliquid est, de quo superiores angeli non loquuntur inferioribus, neque e converso, scilicet ipsa divina essentia quam omnes immediate vident, Deo se omnibus monstrante, secundum illud Ier. c. XXXI, 34: non docebit ultra vir proximum suum, et vir fratrem suum, dicens: cognosce Dominum. Omnes enim cognoscent me a minimo usque ad maximum eorum.
763. But it should be known that in the knowledge of the angelic mind is something about which the higher angels do not speak to the lower, or vice versa, namely, the divine essence, which they all see immediately, God showing himself to all: and no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying: know the Lord. For all shall know immediately, from the least to the greatest (Jer 31:34).
Aliquid autem est in cognitione mentis angelicae, de quo superiores loquuntur inferioribus, sed non econverso. Et huiusmodi sunt divinae providentiae mysteria, quorum plura cognoscunt in ipso Deo superiores, qui clarius eum vident quam inferiores. Unde superiores de huiusmodi inferiores instruunt vel illuminant, quod locutio potest dici.
But something is in the angelic mind about which the higher angels speak to the lower, but not vice versa. Such are the mysteries of divine providence, of which the higher angels know more of these mysteries in God himself, because they see him more clearly than the lower. Hence, the higher angels instruct and enlighten the lower angels about these things and this can be called speech.
Aliquid vero est in cognitione mentis angelicae, de quo superiores loquuntur inferioribus et econverso; et huiusmodi sunt occulta cordium quae ex libero arbitrio dependent, quae soli Deo patent, et his quorum sunt, secundum illud supra II, 11: quae sunt hominis, nemo novit nisi spiritus hominis qui in ipso est. Quae in notitiam alterius deveniunt, eo cuius sunt manifestante, sive sit inferior, sive superior.
But something is in the angelic mind about which the higher speak to the lower, and vice versa. These are the secrets of the heart which depend on free will and are known to God alone and to those with the secret, as it says above: for what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11) These reach another’s knowledge when the one whose they are reveals them, whether it be a lower or a higher.
Fit autem huiusmodi manifestatio dum inferior angelus superiori loquitur, non per illuminationem, sed per quemdam significationis modum. Est enim in quolibet angelo aliquid quod naturaliter ab altero angelo cognoscitur. Dum ergo id quod est naturaliter notum, proponitur ut signum eius quod est ignotum, manifestatur occultum. Et talis manifestatio dicitur locutio ad similitudinem hominum, qui occulta cordium manifestant aliis per voces sensibiles, aut per quodcumque aliud corporale exterius apparens. Unde et ea, quae sunt in angelis naturaliter nota, inquantum assumuntur ad manifestationem occultorum, dicuntur signa vel nutus. Potestas autem manifestandi conceptum suum hoc modo metaphorice lingua nominatur.
A manifestation of this kind happens when a lower angel speaks to a higher, not by enlightening but by some form of signification. For in each angel is something which is naturally known by another angel. Therefore, when that which is naturally known is proposed as a sign of that which is unknown, the occult is manifested. And such a manifestation is called speech after the likeness of men who manifest the secrets of their hearts to others by means of sensible words or through other bodily things outwardly apparent. Hence, even things naturally known in angels, inasmuch as they are employed to manifest secrets, are called signs or nods. But the power of manifesting his own concept in this way is called a tongue metaphorically.
764. Deinde cum dicit et si habuero, etc., ostendit idem de his quae pertinent ad cognitionem.
764. Then when he says, and if I should have prophecy, he shows the same about things pertaining to knowledge.
Est autem attendendum quod supra proposuit quatuor dona gratuita ad cognitionem pertinentia, scilicet sapientiam, scientiam, fidem et prophetiam. Incipit ergo hic a prophetia, dicens et si habuero prophetiam, per quam divinitus occulta revelantur, secundum illud II Petr. I, 21: non enim voluntate humana allata est aliquando prophetia, sed Spiritu Sancto inspirati locuti sunt sancti Dei homines.
But it should be noted that above he proposed four charismatic graces pertaining to knowledge, namely, wisdom, knowledge, faith and prophecy. He begins here with prophecy, saying, if I should have prophecy, through which secrets are divinely revealed: no prophecy every came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet 1:21).
Secundo, quantum ad sapientiam, subdit et noverim omnia mysteria, id est occulta divinitatis, quod pertinet ad sapientiam, secundum illud supra II, 7: loquimur Dei sapientiam in mysterio absconditam.
Second, as to wisdom, he adds: and should know all mysteries, i.e., the secrets of the divinity which pertains to wisdom, as it says above: we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:7).
Tertio, quantum ad scientiam, dicit et omnem scientiam, sive humanitus acquisitam, sicut habuerunt philosophi, sive divinitus infusam, sicut habuerunt eam apostoli. Sap. c. VII, 17: dedit mihi eorum quae sunt veram scientiam.
Third, as to knowledge as he says: and all knowledge, whether humanly acquired as by the philosophers or divinely infused as in the apostles: it was he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists (Wis 7:17).
Quarto, quantum ad fidem, subdit et si habuero omnem fidem, ita ut montes transferam. Potest autem exponi id quod dicit omnem fidem, id est omnium articulorum; sed merito est ut exponatur omnem, id est perfectam fidem, propter illud quod subditur ita ut montes transferam. Dicitur enim Matth. XVII, 19: si habueritis fidem sicut granum sinapis, dicetis monti huic: transi hinc, et transibit. Et quamvis granum sinapis sit minimum quantitate, non tamen intelligitur parva, sed perfecta fides grano sinapis comparari. Dicitur enim Matth. XXI, v. 21: si habueritis fidem, et non haesitaveritis, non solum de ficulnea facietis, sed etiam si monti huic dixeritis: tolle et iacta te in mare, fiet. Fides ergo quae non haesitat, grano sinapis comparatur, quod quanto magis atteritur, tanto magis eius fortitudo sentitur.
Fourth, as to faith he adds: and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains. It is possible to explain all faith as all the articles; but it is useful to explain all, i.e., perfect faith, on account of what is added: so that I could remove mountains. For it is said: if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain: move hence to yonder place; and it will move (Matt 17:20). And although a grain of mustard seed is very tiny, it is not considered tiny, but perfect faith is compared to a grain of mustard seed: if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain: be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done (Matt 21:21). Faith, therefore, which does not doubt is compared to a grain of mustard seed, which, the more it is rubbed, the more its strength is sensed.
765. Obiiciunt autem aliqui quod cum multi Sancti perfectam fidem habuerint, nullus legitur montes transtulisse; quod quidem solvitur per id quod supra XII, 7 dictum est: unicuique datur manifestatio Spiritus ad utilitatem. Illo nempe modo, loco et tempore miracula per gratiam Spiritus Sancti fiunt, quo Ecclesiae requiritur utilitas. Fecerunt autem Sancti multo maiora, quam translationem montium, prout erat fidelibus utile, puta suscitando mortuos, dividendo mare et alia huiusmodi opera faciendo. Et hoc etiam fecissent, si necessitas adfuisset.
765. But some object that although many saints had perfect faith, no one is recorded to have moved mountains. This is solved by what is said above: the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit (1 Cor 12:7), i.e., in that time, place and manner miracles are worked by the grace of the Holy Spirit as the needs of the Church require. But many saints have done much greater things than moving mountains, according as it was useful to the faith: for example, by raising the dead, dividing the sea and performing other works of this nature. And they would have done this, if it had been necessary.
Potest etiam hoc transferri ad expulsionem daemonum de humanis corporibus, qui montes dicuntur propter superbiam. Ier. XIII, 16: antequam offendant pedes vestri ad montes caliginosos, ecce ego ad te, mons pestifer, qui corrumpis universam terram.
This can also be referred to the expulsion of demons from human bodies, who are called mountains on account of pride: before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, I am against you, O destroying mountain, which destroys the whole earth (Jer 13:16).
Attribuitur autem operatio miraculorum fidei non haesitanti, quia fides innititur omnipotentiae, per quam miracula fiunt.
The working of miracles is attributed to faith that does not doubt, because faith rests on omnipotence, through which miracles are performed.
766. Si, inquam, habuero omnia praedicta ad perfectionem intellectus pertinentia, caritatem autem non habuero, per quam perficitur voluntas, nihil sum, scilicet secundum esse gratiae, de quo dicitur Eph. II, 10: ipsius sumus factura, creati in Christo Iesu in operibus bonis. Unde et contra quemdam dicitur Ez. XXVII, 19: nihil factus es, et non eris in perpetuum. Quod quidem fit propter defectum caritatis, per quam homo bene utitur intellectu perfecto. Sine caritate autem eius usus bonus non est. Unde et supra c. VIII, 1 dicitur, quod scientia inflat, caritas aedificat.
766. If, I say, I had all the above pertaining to the perfection of the intellect, and have not charity, through which the intellect is perfected, I am nothing, according to the order of grace, about which it is said: for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10). Hence it is said against someone: you have come to a dreadful end, and shall be no more forever (Ezek 27:19). This occurs on account of a lack of charity, through which man uses a perfected intellect well. Without charity, however, its use is not good. Hence it says above: knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies (1 Cor 8:1).
767. Est autem notandum quod Apostolus hic loquitur de sapientia et scientia, secundum quod pertinent ad dona gratiae gratis datae, quae sine caritate esse possunt. Nam secundum quod computantur inter septem dona Spiritus Sancti, numquam sine caritate habentur. Unde et Sap. I, 4 dicitur: in malevolam animam non intrabit sapientia. Et Sap. X, 10 dicitur: dedit illi scientiam sanctorum. De prophetia autem et fide manifestum est, quod sine caritate haberi possunt.
767. But it should be noted that the Apostle speaks here about wisdom and knowledge as they pertain to the charismatic gifts, which can be without charity. For accordingly as they are numbered among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are never possessed without charity. Hence it is said: wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul (Wis 1:4); she gave him the knowledge of holy things (Wis 10:10). As far as prophecy and faith are concerned, it is clear that they can be possessed without faith.
Sed notandum est hic quod fides firma, etiam sine caritate, miracula facit. Unde, Matth. VII, 22, dicentibus: nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, et multas virtutes fecimus? Dicitur: numquam novi vos. Spiritus enim Sanctus operatur virtutes etiam per malos, sicut et per eos loquitur veritatem.
But it should be noted here that strong faith, even without charity, can perform miracles. Hence: did we not prophesy in your name and do many mighty works in your name? (Matt 7:22). The answer is given: I know you not. For the Holy Spirit works wonders even through the wicked, just as he speaks the truth through them.
768. Deinde cum dicit et si distribuero, etc., ostendit idem in his quae pertinent ad opera, quae consistunt in hoc quod homo faciat bona, secundum illud Gal. VI, v. 9: bonum facientes, non deficiamus; et in hoc quod patienter sustineat mala, secundum illud Ps. XCI, 15 s.: bene patientes erunt, ut annuntient.
768. Then when he says: and if I should distribute, he shows the same in matters pertaining to works which consists in man’s doing good works: let us not grow weary in well-doing (Gal 6:9), and in his enduring evils patiently: for justice will return to the righteous and all the upright in heart will follow it (Ps 94:15).