Works of mercy: spiritual and corporal - CARF
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17 Mar, 21


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Works of mercy: spiritual and corporal

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we help our neighbor in his bodily and spiritual needs.

What are the works of mercy?

They are selfless acts performed with detachment and generosity that we do for other people. The works of mercy are fourteen, seven corporal and seven spiritual. To instruct, to counsel, to console, to comfort, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and suffering with patience. Among the corporal works of mercy we find almsgiving, which is one of the principal testimonies of fraternal charity, as well as a practice of justice that pleases God. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447

Pope Francis has named 2014 as the year of the Year of MercyHere we will review the works of mercy that he recommended to meditate on and perform during this time, but which should not be forgotten.

Every Christian must keep these works in mind as "a way to awaken our conscience, often lethargic in the face of the drama of poverty, and to enter even more deeply into the heart of the Gospel, where the poor are the privileged of divine mercy".

The Church has the wisdom of a good mother, who knows what her children need to grow up healthy and strong, in body and spirit. Through the works of mercy, he invites us to rediscover that both the body and soul of our fellow human beings are in need of care, and that God entrusts each one of us with this attentive care.. "The object of mercy is human life itself in its totality. Our very life as "flesh" is hungry and thirsty, in need of clothing, a home and visitors, as well as a dignified burial, which no one can give to himself (...). Our very life as "spirit" needs to be educated, corrected, encouraged, consoled (...). We need others to counsel us, forgive us, bear with us and pray for us."  Francis, 3rd meditation at the Jubilee of priests, 2-VI-2016.

Pope Francis concludes one of his catecheses on the 14 works of mercy

Impact of the works of mercy on the person who performs them

The practice of the works of mercy generates grace for those who practice them. The Gospel of Luke relates the words of Jesus: "Give, and it will be given to you". So with the works of mercy we do the Will of God, we give something of ourselves to others and the Lord promises us that he will also give us what we need.

On the other hand, performing works of mercy is a way of compensating and restoring our soul for our sins already forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation. the confession. Performing good works such as, of course, the Works of Mercy. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Mt.5, 7.

Moreover, the Works of Mercy help us to advance on the road to Heaven, because they make us similar to Jesus, our model, who taught us how our attitude towards others should be. In Matthew we find the following words of Christ: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".

By following this teaching of the Lord, we exchange temporal goods for eternal goods, which are those that are truly valuable.

Corporal works of mercy
1 Visiting the sick
2 Feeding the hungry
3 Give drink to the thirsty.
4 Providing lodging for pilgrims.
5 Naked dressing.
6 Visiting prisoners.
7 Burying the deceased.

Corporal Works of Mercy

"A man who does not react to tribulations or injustices, and who does not strive to alleviate them, is not a man after the measure of the love of Christ's heart."
Pope Francis

Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty.

"He who has two coats, let him distribute them to those who have none; and he who has enough to eat, let him do the same" (Lk 3:11). These two works of mercy complement each other and refer to the help that we should procure in food and other goods for the most needy.

Providing lodging for pilgrims

It is not a common case nowadays, but it could happen that we receive someone in our home, not out of pure hospitality of friendship or family, but because of a real need.

Naked dressing

This work of mercy is directed to alleviate another basic need: clothing. Many times, it is made easier for us with the collections of clothes that are made in parishes and other centers. When it is time to give our clothes, it is good to think that we can give what we have left over or what is no longer useful, but we can also give what is still useful.

In the letter of James we are encouraged to be generous: "If a brother or sister is naked and lacking daily sustenance, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed or fed,' but you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what good is it?" James 2:15-16.

Visiting the sick

In this time of global pandemic this work of mercy takes on a strong meaning. It is about true care, both in terms of physical needs, as well as keeping them company and praying for the sick and the elderly. A good example from Sacred Scripture is the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of St. Luke.

Visiting the incarcerated

It consists of visiting the prisoners and providing them not only with material help but also with spiritual assistance that will help them to improve as persons, to mend their ways, to learn to develop a job that can be useful to them when they finish the time assigned by the justice system. Today it is the priests and consecrated women who carry out this complicated task of solidarity. praying for prieststo accompany and support them in this social work of solidarity.

Burying the deceased

To offer a mass for the deceased and dignified burial of the dead seems like a superfluous command, but it is not. In time of war, it can be a very demanding mandate. Why is it important to give dignified burial to the human body? Because the human body has been the home of the Holy Spirit. We are "temples of the Holy Spirit". 1 Cor 6:19.

Spiritual works of mercy
1 Teaching those who do not know.
2 Give good advice to those who need it.
3 Correct the wrongdoer.
4 Forgive those who offend us.
5 To comfort the sad.
6 To suffer with patience the defects of others.
7 Pray to God for the living and the deceased.

Spiritual Works of Mercy

"A Christian cannot dwell only on personal problems, for he must live with the universal Church in mind, thinking of the salvation of all souls."
Pope Francis

Teaching those who do not know

"Those who teach righteousness to the multitude shall shine like the stars for ever and ever." (Dan 12:3b).

It refers to teaching on any subject: also on religious subjects. This teaching can be through writings or by word of mouth, by any means of communication or directly. Giving help and support to the priestly formation is also a work of spiritual mercy.

Giving good advice to those who need it

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of counsel. Therefore, whoever intends to give good advice must, first of all, be in tune with God, since it is not a matter of giving personal opinions, but of giving good advice to those in need of guidance.

Correcting the wrongdoer

Fraternal correction is explained by Jesus himself in the Gospel of Matthew: "If your brother sins, go and speak to him alone and reproach him. If he listens to you, you have won your brother." (Mt 18:15-17).

To correct our neighbor we must do it with meekness and humility. Many times it will be difficult, but we can remember what the apostle James says at the end of his letter: "He who turns a sinner from his evil way will save his soul from death and obtain forgiveness for many sins" (James 5:20).

Forgiveness of insults

When we pray the Our Father we say "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" and Jesus Christ tells us: "If you forgive the trespasses of men, the heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive the trespasses of men, neither will the Father forgive you". (Mt 6:14-15).

To forgive is to overcome revenge and resentment. It means treating kindly those who have offended us. The greatest forgiveness is that of Christ on the Cross, who teaches us that we must forgive everything and always: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". (Lk 23:34).

Comfort the sad

Comfort for the sad person, for the one who suffers some personal difficulty or finds himself in a moment where he has to overcoming grief is another work of spiritual mercy. Often, it will be complemented by giving good advice, which will help to overcome those situations of pain or sadness. To accompany our neighbor at all times, but especially in the most difficult moments, is to put into practice the example of Jesus in the Gospel, who had compassion on the pain of others whenever he saw it.

To suffer with patience the defects of others.

Patience in the face of the defects of others is a virtue and a work of mercy. When bearing those defects causes more harm than good, with much charity and gentleness, a warning should be given.

Praying for the living and the deceased

St. Paul recommends praying for all, without distinction, also for rulers and persons in positions of responsibility. Prayer for priestly and religious vocations and the Pope's intentions. It is also important to pray for the deceased who are in the Purgatorypray for them and ask for plenary indulgence that their souls may be free from sin. 

Tuck in the weakness of others

Although it is certainly appropriate to give life to projects where we have the possibility of lending a hand, the usual terrain of mercy is a day-to-day work governed by the passion to help: what else can I do? who else can I involve? All this is mercy in action, without timetables, without calculations: "a dynamic mercy, not as a reified and defined noun, nor as an adjective that decorates life a little, but as a verb - to mercy and to be merciful".Francis, 1st meditation at the Jubilee of priests, 2-VI-2016.

With the collaboration of:
Catholicism of the Catholic Church
Pope Francis, 3rd meditation at the Jubilee for priests

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