“Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then your neighbor, because these are the chief commandments given to us.” (The Rule, Introduction, 1).
If the search for truth (Veritas) is a search for the author of all truth (a God of love), and all people are united (Unitas) in that search through the generous contribution of their unique gifts towards the common good, then love becomes an integral part of the search.
The supreme commandment given by Christ is to love God and neighbor (Mark 12: 30-31). One cannot be accomplished without the other. Love impels people to put others’s needs ahead of their own, as exemplified by the self-emptying of Christ Himself.
Therefore, Augustine was adamant that the common good of all trumps personal interest (The Rule V, 31). This principle he takes directly from the model of the first Christians found in Acts 4. Love finds expression when the head and heart move into action for the good of all.
Therefore, love finds expression in relationships, where the Spirit of Christ draws us into loving union with Him, others, and ourselves. It is through our own unification with the God who transcends all human divisions that we are transformed in such a way that we are made one with each other and the God who is all in all (1 Cor 15:28).
Some of the ways that we seek Caritas include
- Being a faithful friend to someone
- Giving from our extra time or resources to help others
- Volunteering for service projects
- Befriending someone new (especially someone who may be alone or isolated from others)
- Seeking to forgive those who hurt us
- Taking care of those things which all humans depend on (e.g., the environment, natural resources, etc)
We can now see how the three values (Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas) support and express one another. The search for truth (Veritas) involves the search for the author of all truth God (Veritas). This search draws us to God and each other (Unitas). Love (Caritas) is what propels us towards God and each other.
Click here to discover 12 principles of the Augustinian life that promote Unitas, Veritas, and Caritas across all the many diverse life circumstances we may find ourselves in.