The Year of Mercy for a Sinful Man like Me – Part 2

The previous post began with a look at the absolute anguish that is all too easy to see in our world. It is certainly a world far from God and in need of Mercy. For the Catholic Gentleman, this Holy Year of Mercy invites us to two things: to experience God’s Mercy, and to share his Mercy.

As Catholics, our greatest experience of Mercy is within the Sacrament of Mercy, that is, the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation. It is here that our confession and our contrition is met with the forgiveness and Mercy of Jesus. While there is certainly more to be said about this Sacrament, the simple fact is that Jesus wants to forgive us, and indeed he has already forgiven us, he just wants us to lay down our pride and ask freely for his Mercy. Merciful forgiveness is a gift, and the ordinary means in which we can receive this gift is in experiencing the Sacrament of Mercy.

But because we have experienced Mercy, we are also called to share his Mercy. Because we are Baptized, we are also called to Love with the Merciful Love of God. The world indeed needs God to extend his Mercy upon it, and one of the ways he does this is by using us as his instruments. Many of our beautiful saints lived their saintly lives as extensions of God’s Mercy within this world. Think of Blessed Mother Theresa, Jean Vianney, or Elizabeth of Hungary.

Now, if we are truly on the path of Manly Holiness, then sharing God’s Mercy in the world is our task also.

How, you might ask?

Our rich Catholic teaching comprehensively sums up our call to live out Merciful Charity in what are known as The Corporal Works of Mercy and The Spiritual Works of Mercy. By practicing these fourteen Works of Mercy, we follow the words of Jesus, when he said:

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Some would diminish the merit of works, but Christ evidently won’t recognize us as fit for his Kingdom unless we do those works as we carry out his call to be his witness of Mercy in the world.

The first seven are called corporal (from Latin corpus meaning body) because they call us to tend to the bodily or physical needs of others. The next are called spiritual because they tend to the soul of our neighbor, and though their object is not physical, their importance is no less (if anything, more) than the Corporal Works of Mercy. All of them are works of Mercy because they are our freely given acts of charity, done in the name of Jesus, that expect nothing in return. Mercy, remember, is a gift – A gift God gives to us, and which we pass on to others through our love!

Let us jog our memories by listing these Works of Mercy below:

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  1. To feed the hungry – providing for the needy, sharing food, helping to prepare food, serving others food
  2. To give drink to the thirsty – providing drink after hard work or on a hot day, serving tea or coffee, helping a child reach the tap
  3. To clothe the naked – donating clothing to a shelter, sending clothing to refugees or overseas, helping with laundry
  4. To visit the imprisoned – protecting the freedom of the innocent, visiting and praying for those in prison
  5. To shelter the homeless – show generous hospitality, take in those in need, build homes for the homeless, maintain and clean one’s own home
  6. To visit the sick – assist the sick, visit the elderly and shut-ins, visit a hospital or senior home
  7. To bury the dead – attend funerals, pay respects at cemeteries, place flowers on a grave

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  1. To admonish the sinner – directly or indirectly forming the consciences of others
  2. To instruct the ignorant – being a beacon of truth to the hearts and minds of others
  3. To counsel the doubtful – offering clarity and certainty of Christ’s teachings to others
  4. To comfort the sorrowful – helping another in their sadness and refraining from causing sorrow to others
  5. To bear wrongs patiently – persisting in patience in dealing with the ignorance or carelessness of others
  6. To forgive all injuries – forgiving all those who have deliberately or unintentionally sinned against us
  7. To pray for the living and the dead – praying for those around us in this world, and those who have departed from this world

Wow. If that’s not a complete Christian to-do list, I don’t know what is. As you have probably noticed, you likely already do many of these things already (especially if you are a parent). But imagine if we could make our efforts more frequent, more intentional, and more far reaching than just among the people closest to us. Imagine how we would grow in love of neighbor. Imagine the Mercy that would pour into the world!

May we share the eye of Christ, as the official Year of Mercy logo depicts, so as to recognize with clarity the opportunities to be his Mercy to the world around us. Does the world around us need to experience an outpouring of Mercy? Yes it does. Does it come from God? Yes….and perhaps some of it will flow through a certain Catholic Gentleman you likely know very well.

May God Bless you all in this Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, 2015-16.

~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide

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