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I love this essay--because I, too, think that the thing missing in modern society is caritas, just as you describe it. We have lost the ability to empathize on a mass scale, an essential component to the expression of unflinching kindness that caritas is supposed to offer. I admit: I have never (and probably will never) watched even an episode of Ted Lasso, as I don't subscribe to the streaming platform on which it lives. But I have been thinking a lot about kindness, and its absence in modern discourse, these days.

In my own research I have discovered that the medieval women whose lives and activities I have uncovered were extremely pragmatic and practical people, and that one of the expressions of this pragmatism is found in their charitable donations and "caritas" more generally. They gave money to institutions and individuals for specific, usually very practical, things: to create a better chapter house for an urban priory; to ensure that nuns' robes were renewed annually; to repair broken farm equipment--you get the picture. I have found that I, too, think pragmatically about my performance of caritas, and that this is a feature of my giving (and my lovingkindness) that places me in a different category from others who also give. Because charity and caritas are--as you point out--two different things. There are plenty of philanthropists (itself perhaps an oxymoron when dealing with people I am about to describe) for whom "charity" means trumpeting their own importance by sticking their names to buildings, institutions, and organizations. The goal is less about acting out of kindness and more about the "humble brag." My expression of caritas has a different flavor, one that is overlooked by people who want to see something splashy and neon. And I suspect that people in the Middle Ages were divided between these two versions of caritas as well.

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