Allan Kardec

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4. When great calamities occur charity is filled with emotion, and generous impulses are seen on all sides in the repairing of these disasters. But apart from these general disasters, there are millions of private catastrophes which go unnoticed, for there are those who lie on beds of suffering without complaining. These discreet and hidden misfortunes are the ones which true generosity knows how to discover without even waiting to be asked for help.

Who is that woman with the distinctive air, simply dressed, although well cared for, who is accompanied by an equally modestly dressed young girl? They enter a sordid looking house where the lady is obviously well-known because they are greeted with respect as they enter. Where is she going? Up to the garret where a mother lies surrounded by her many children. On their arrival happiness bursts forth upon the thin faces. This is because the woman has come to soothe their pains. She has brought everything they need, tempered with gentle and consoling words which allows her protégés, who are not professional beggars, to accept these benefits without blushing. The father is in hospital and while he is there the mother is unable to provide the necessities of life with her work. By the grace of this good woman these poor children will no longer feel cold nor hungry; they will go to school well-clothed and, for the smaller ones, the mother's breasts which feed them will not go dry. If any member of this family falls sick, this good woman will not refuse the material care which they may need. From their house she will go on to the hospital to take the father some comforts and also to put his mind at rest as to his family. At the corner of the road a carriage awaits, and inside is a store of everything destined for her various protégés, for one after the other they all receive visits. She never asks what their religion is nor what their opinions are, because she considers them to be her brothers and sisters and the children of God, as are all men and women. When she has finished her rounds she can say to herself: "I have begun my day well." What is her name? Where does she come from? No one knows. To all those unhappy ones she has given a name which indicates nothing. But she is the personification of a consoling angel. Each night a host of blessings rise up to the heavens in her name from Catholics, Jews and Protestants alike.

Why such modest clothing? So as not to insult their misery with her luxury. Why does she take her daughter? So that she too may learn how to practise beneficence, for the young lady also wishes to be charitable. However, the mother says to her: "What can you give, my daughter, when you have nothing of your own? If I give you something of mine to give away, what merit will that be for you? In that case it is really I who am giving, so what good would that bring you? It would not be just. So when I visit the sick you will help me treat them. To offer care to someone is to give something of yourself. Do you not think that is sufficient to start with? Well then, nothing could be simpler; you can begin by learning how to make useful articles and clothes for the children.

In this manner you will be giving of yourself." When she is a true Christian, this is how a mother should prepare her children to practise those virtues which Christ taught. Is she a Spiritist? What does that matter!

In her own home she is a woman of the world because her position demands it of her. Those about her know nothing of what she is doing, as she does not wish for any approval other than that from God and her own conscience. However, one day an unexpected circumstance brought one of her protégés to her door, selling hand-made articles. When this woman saw her, she recognised her benefactor. The lady told her to be silent and “Tell no one!” Jesus also spoke in this manner.

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