Btw, this story includes a short bit of racist but relatively non-malicious dialogue. I tried to turn it on itself in my reading, so that the stereotyped character was making a joke at the expense of stereotype. One of the hazards of reading stories from the past is encountering bad attitudes from the past, though, and I want you to know that I’m not ignorant of that, agreeing with the author’s attitude, or trying to pretend it’s not there. I’m just trying to get over rough ground as lightly as possible. That’s one of the legitimate uses of a reader’s powers of interpretation.
You’re having some technical terminology thrown at you, and concepts are being expressed in ways not usually used today. Don’t panic. Charity is “caritas”, love of God and neighbor. “Perfect” does not mean you never ever make any mistakes; it’s the biblical “perfect”, which is more like “totally equipped for the job” or “complete and well-rounded”. A lot of this stuff will be defined for you later in the text. Don’t panic.
As requested a long time back, I’m beginning to read An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. This is a very interesting advice book on how to live a life of more devoted love of God, no matter what you do for a living and no matter how much time you have available. Popular with Protestants as well as Catholics, this is a real classic and has been translated into tons of languages over the last few centuries.
St. Francis de Sales was one of the lucky guys picked to go into Calvin Country and evangelize people back to Catholicism, while trying not to get killed. What fun! Well, if you were St. Francis de Sales, it was. He was one of those people who are almost ludicrously perky and happy in their work (after a miraculous conversion from despair and becoming a lawyer, so don’t hate him). He’s also a heck of a writer, and was made a patron saint of writers and journalists.
I know I usually advise people to read the introductions and forewords and prefaces last, because they’re usually boring or contain spoilers. But this preface is actually interesting and useful, and was written by the author — so it’s the exception.