Welcome to the beginning of the Year of Mercy in the global Catholic community.
Catholics have long been called to recognize the universal hunger for forgiveness and mercy; to consciously seek God’s mercy; and to act mercifully– in all ways — to others, just as the Creator is merciful without question or limit.
An official Year of Mercy, when celebrated periodically by the Church, offers believers a variety of prayers, rituals, and spiritual practices to do such things.
Individuals and communities can offer signs of goodness, love, forgiveness, and mercy to others in countless ways. These gestures are symbolic of the boundless care that the Creator has for all.
In particular, though, Catholics speak of seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works relate to the physical or bodily needs of human beings. The spiritual works relate more specifically to the needs of the human soul.
The gospel roots of these moral ‘works’ stem from the ministry and witness of Jesus of Nazareth. Two particular passages from the Gospel of Matthew allude to the import of doing mercy. In Matthew 5, 3-10, Jesus teaches on the spirit of the Beatitudes. Then, in Matthew 25, 31-46, Christ reveals the works of mercy essential to living the Gospel fully.
The Second Vatican Council taught that doing the various Christian works of mercy – on one’s own or with companions — affords the world a striking testimony regarding virtuous life and discipleship in action.
The Corporal Works of Mercy
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick and those in prison
Give to the poor Bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Admonish the sinner
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead
Butch Ekstrom December 8, 2015