Throughout this Year of Mercy (including at Veritas), there’s been more talk about the traditional Works of Mercy in response to Pope Francis’ call for Catholics to be rediscover and practice them as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In fact, Pope Francis has asked young Catholics to practise a corporal (physical) and a spiritual work of mercy each month.
The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy come from the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25: 31–46 and another set of Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy were developed later. These two sets of Works of Mercy remind us to help our neighbour in both their physical as well as their spiritual needs.
Below are the Seven Corporal and Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy with a brief explanation of each.
This can include volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a service that provides food for those in need or even doing the grocery shopping for someone who is housebound.
This can range from providing a cold drink to someone when it is hot in the summer or alternatively a warm drink when it is cold in the winter.
This Work of Mercy is about providing clothing or blankets to those in need of them and can be done by donating or making clothes for the needy.
This Work of Mercy is particularly focused on those who do not have their own roof above their heads and can be done by helping out at Shopfront, Little Sisters of the Poor and St Vincent de Paul.
This Work of Mercy is about alleviating the suffering of the sick which can be done by providing company or other forms of assistance or volunteering at a place that cares for the sick.
Prison ministry is the main form of this Work of Mercy but it can also involve helping those imprisoned in other ways and also helping those formerly imprisoned integrate back into society.
This Work of Mercy is about honouring our neighbour, even in death, and includes attending funerals and memorials services to honour those who have died and helping those who are grieving.
This is a Work of Mercy when it is about giving people important information and instruction that will help them grow towards spiritual maturity.
This is a Work of Mercy because it helps people make decisions instead of being stuck in indecision and so it can be done by being a good listener and praying for wisdom and guidance.
This Work of Mercy needs to be done delicately from the perspective that the sinner is not an enemy but a brother or sister and so is to be done only in essential matters and at the right time.
The emphasis of this Work of Mercy is not to be a doormat but, when faced with wrongs which we can’t do much about, to bear them with great patience.
Forgiveness is not about ignoring the offence done to us but acknowledging the full degree of it and releasing the debt and, by setting others free, we are ourselves set free from resentment.
This is a Work of Mercy because it is about giving people encouragement and strengthening their spirits when they are in moments of sadness which can weaken the human spirit.
It may be a simple Work of Mercy but it is also powerful because it joins our works of mercy to God’s Mercy and reminds us of the power of prayer.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is about us becoming more aware and entering deeper into God’s Mercy and also sharing that same Mercy with our neighbour. Jesus gave us a number of categories in which we can practice mercy and, while sometimes they are big, public and extraordinary acts; these Works of Mercy can also be practiced in the simple, ordinary and everyday in our homes, neighbourhoods, schools, universities, workplaces and local communities.
The main objective is to share God’s mercy with others in our world in both practical and spiritual ways and #bemerciful.
Written by Fr Brennan Sia (CYM Chaplain)
Image from www.godsfingerprints.net