[St. Pachomius Library]
This document is in the public domain. Copying it is encouraged.

The Blessèd Jerome:

Translated by Wm. Henry Fremantle, 1893.


14. You will reply that every one can do this in his own country, and that there will never be wanting poor who ought to be supported with the resources of the Church. And we do not deny that doles should be distributed to all poor people, even to Jews and Samaritans, if the means will allow.

But the Apostle teaches that alms should be given to all, indeed, especially, however, to those who are of the household of faith, [Gal. vi. 10]. And respecting these the Saviour said in the Gospel, [Luke xvi. 9]: Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, who may receive you into everlasting habitations. What! Can those poor creatures, with their rags and filth, lorded over, as they are, by raging lust, can they who own nothing, now or hereafter, have eternal habitations? No doubt it is not the poor simply, but the poor in spirit, who are called blessed; those of whom it is written, [Ps. xli. 9]: Blessed is he who gives his mind to the poor and needy; the Lord shall deliver him in the evil day.

But the fact is, in supporting the poor of the common people, what is needed is not mind, but money. In the case of the saintly poor the mind has blessed exercises, since you give to one who receives with a blush, and when he has received is grieved, that while sowing spiritual things he must reap your carnal things.

As for his argument that they who keep what they have, and distribute among the poor, little by little, the increase of their property, act more wisely than they who sell their possessions, and once for all give all away, not I but the Lord shall make answer: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and come, follow Me, [Matt. xix. 21]. He speaks to him who wishes to be perfect, who, with the Apostles, leaves father, ship, and net. The man whom you approve stands in the second or third rank; yet we welcome him provided it be understood that the first is to be preferred to the second, and the second to the third.