Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Corporal Works of Mercy

Who remembers the old Baltimore Catechism's list of the corporal works of mercy?

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the imprisoned
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Bury the dead

Caring for the poor and depraved in society is not an option for Christians. It is indeed the ONLY way to be Christlike. As mothers, our ability and time to devote to the world outside our homes is limited of course, but the responsibility is no less real. I think it is possible to get TOO "high and humble" on our mothering vocation. We think life is so grand and beautiful, feeding our family, educating our children, loving our spouse. Yes! Do these things! This is our path to sanctification. But don't forget that outside your front door is a whole wide world desperately in need of some of that nurturing. Don't just make sure your car doors are locked when you see someone begging at the intersection. Don't just get rid of all your torn up, stained, ill-fitting clothes. Be real in your charity!

St. Robert Bellarmine was often accused of being generous to a fault. His friends would tell him to stop giving money to some of the beggars because they were deceiving him and taking advantage of his generosity (sounds like the skepticism many of us have with the panhandlers on the streets). But he always maintained that if among 100 deceptors, he was able to sincerely aid one man (or one disguised angel?), it was all worth it. Take a family outing to volunteer at the soup kitchen. If you have several stylish jackets, keep one or two for the different seasons and part with the rest to a St. Vincent's or other such organization. Check your local jail and see if they have a visiting prayer ministry you can join. At least be praying for those who are incarcerated. Volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build. This would be a wonderful thing to do with older children. And if it's not feasible, offer to bring food or refreshments for the volunteers that ARE working. Here is a link to some of the homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the United States.

What about visiting the sick? "To visit the sick or those in senior years living alone is truly an act of great love and faith. Did not Jesus hold this kind of service as a fundamental Christian way of living? In my view, this should never be seen as a burden or an inconvenience; rather, it is a special blessing and joy. Why? Because each person can only grow from the experience of learning something from the other, and of experiencing the Christ in the other. Is it no wonder that Jesus himself encouraged his followers to visit the sick? They are very close to the heart of Christ." (Fr. Patrick O'Dea) Most of us know someone who is either homebound or in the hospital frequently. Love them in action. Here is a good article on tips for visiting the sick. Finally, bury the dead. That's pretty self-explanatory but the best thing we can remember to do, and not just on All Soul's Day, is to pray for our departed brethren. I hope that people don' t just write me off and continue to pray for MY sould when I die...


one of us :: 6:47 AM :: 0 Comments