Corporal Works of Mercy – Lenten Spirituality in Action
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
Continuing Our Journey
At this point in this year’s Lenten Journey many of us take the opportunity to evaluate our progress with an eye towards areas of readjustment. In this process, many of us find ourselves focusing disproportionately on our personal and spiritual growth. This is easy to do and in many ways it is commendable. From the significance of prayer to the absolute importance of receiving the Sacraments on a regular basis, we have all been called to a lifestyle that makes Christ the center of our lives. In a struggling world that is crying in pain, we are privileged to have a blessed relationship with an unconditionally loving God.
So, following the teachings of the Church, many of us use the Lenten journey to sharpen our relationship with Christ by making sacrifices. For many it means giving up something that is pleasurable. As a child, I gave up candy and then gave the money to the poor via a special program at my school. As I have grown older, I have felt called to give up other things that span the spectrum of life--all aimed at strengthen my relationship with God. My brothers and sisters, there is more to Lent than giving up things, especially when it comes to giving of ourselves.
Using Our Talents To Restore A Broken World Via The Corporal Works Of Mercy
Therefore, I ask-- have you used your gifts to reach out to others in need? Have any of your almsgiving or sacrifices been in the currency of your time and talents? Many have surpluses beyond the basic necessities in life and are able to write a check or give cash to valid and just causes like out parishes. Even though many are blessed by these contributions, sometimes it may little impact on our daily lives. Take time to see if you can volunteer to help others. This can make a huge difference for both the giver and the receiver.
The actions of caring and serving are embodied in the Corporal Works of Mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.” (CCC #2447) These seven "works of mercy" reference the commands of Jesus in Matthew 25. They are: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit those in prison; and to bury the dead. Can you find room in your life to help others?
Our Church Guides Us in Serving Others
I am a proud of the Roman Catholic community when it comes to seeing my brothers and sisters giving of their time and talents. Across the world, Catholics live works of mercy in millions of different ways. Of course, the source of this Christian work is our Baptism. However, we nurture and reinforce our service from Holy Mass as the People of God renewed with the Body and Blood of Christ and sent forth in the Dismissal Rite to love and serve our neighbors. The Dismissal Rite commands us to take the graces from Mass to others.
This Lent, reflect on the true meaning of the Dismissal Rite and take a fresh look at the Corporal Works of Mercy. See if you can make the lives of our neighbors more pleasant while drawing you closer to God.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- Which of the seven Corporal Works of Mercy do I have the most difficulty witnessing to brothers and sisters in my ministry?
- During these last days of Lent what changes can I make to better live at least one of the Corporal Works of Mercy?
From a Family Perspective:
- In my Domestic Church, as parent, sibling, widow or single, how can I use the Corporal Works of Mercy to strengthen my personal and spiritual relationships?
- Which Corporal Works of Mercy can my Domestic Church share in order to reach out to others in need?
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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