Corporal Works of Mercy

The other day, I was explaining to Auntie M the perk of choosing a college which not only teaches the rubrics of religion, but then also teaches the practical application of living one’s faith.  The topic stemmed from a discussion on the Corporal Works of Mercy.

For those unfamiliar with the principle, the Corporal Works of Mercy are: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit the imprisoned; bury the dead.

The conversation led me to think of the practical applications of the Corporal Works of Mercy as I go about my daily life.  Before I had children, I worked a full-time job, focusing on my skills as a social worker.  I felt as though I routinely checked the block of meeting the requirements of the Corporal Works of Mercy, aside from burying the dead.  At certain points in my life, I would feel burnt out, and wouldn’t contribute more than simply going to work and doing my job.  I don’t know if simply doing my job to the best of my ability counted as performing the Corporal Works, but I will hope that time of my life counted.

Fast forward to today, as a stay at home mom and wife.  My life is no less busy than it was while I was working full time; however, it is busy in ways that differ from the days of paid employment.  I no longer work with the disenfranchised echelons of society on a daily basis.  Yet, as a Catholic Christian, I am still called to perform the Corporal Works of Mercy during my days.

So, how do I perform these Corporal Works?

As a mother, I have been reminded by chaplains that I feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked on a regular basis – provided I provide for my family, I have performed those Works of Mercy.  Furthermore, a priest told our congregation one Sunday, if we did not feel called to visit those incarcerated at a local prison, that we could pray for those called to visit, and would suffice for that Work of Mercy.

I have yet to determine how to achieve meeting the other Works – shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and bury the dead.  As the Year of Mercy closes out for the Catholic Church, I would be remiss if I didn’t think of ways in which to meet those goals we strive to achieve as Catholic Christians.

When trying to determine ways to achieve the Corporal Works of Mercy, I turn to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  She embodied and lived the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy day in and day out.  She also challenged those who came into contact with her to incorporate the Works of Mercy into their lifestyles.

Both this picture, and the feature image were taken after a Google image search for “Mother Teresa quote about Works of Mercy”

Not in an attempt to brag, but rather in an attempt to bounce around ideas: what are some ways you work to meet the call of the Corporal Works of Mercy?

13 thoughts on “Corporal Works of Mercy

  1. I hope that somehow our chosen life-work qualifies as fulfilling the corporal works of mercy. I don’t want to air all of our works for the public to see, but you know what we have done and continue to do. Visiting the prison is not one that I choose to do, or that I want the children that I have, to do. But some people are caught in the prison of their mind and their habits. Prison is a building, but being caught in your own personal prison/hell is another form of being unable to free yourself.
    As for burying the dead, we have been lucky to not have to deal with that so much. In today’s society, taking care of the dead is pretty much a given. I have an idea on how to do that, but it is a personal calling.
    I am doing a cross stitch of Blessed Theresa.

  2. I love this reflection- how perfect for the Year of Mercy and Mother Teresa’s upcoming canonization 🙂

  3. Hello, for burying the dead ask your church if you could buy a simple headstone for someone who was buried by the state or without one for whatever reason. You could also make a monetary donation to help a family in need bury a loved one. For helping shelter a person you could ask the shelters for advice on what items you could donate to a family in transition so it doesn’t take from they’re rent. Oh, you could pay a deposit to get gas or electric turned on. On visiting the sick did you know you can sign in as a guest at nursing homes and visit patients and also you can volunteer at hospitals to hold babies who are sick but whose parents can’t be there 24/7?

    1. These are all fantastic ideas! Thank you for sharing!

      (And, I did know about the nursing home, but not the babies in hospitals!) Maybe the baby idea will be possible when my babies are no longer babies! 😉

  4. I would say if you know someone with an elderly parent who is ill maybe volunteer to visit with them so the friend can take a break or a shower lol. Even a friend or family member who is ill might need their house tidied up, a meal prepared, errand run. Thanks for this blog. It’s inspired me to do better and challenge my friends and family to do the same. Many blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so much!!

      One of my favorite things to offer is a meal to help a family – simply because I know how much meals have meant to me. Not even extravagant meals, just something I don’t have to worry about.

      Blessings to you, as well!

  5. Hello, I recently found out one more thing that could be considered burying somebody and I wanted to share it with you. Making little burial gowns for stillborn babies might be a good idea there are patterns on Pinterest for these types of gowns they’re inexpensive to make and I’m sure the families would appreciate them hope this helps you with the mercy of burying someone. I wanted to thank you because since I read your blog it lit a fire in me to do more for others. My cousin and I are starting a charity circle (for lack of a better word). We’ll be doing a variety of projects and will be inviting people who otherwise would be lonely at home and not having much social interaction so it kind of kills two birds with one stone. 😊Thanks again.

    1. Such a beautiful ministry you and your cousin are beginning!! I pray for success in that endeavor! And, if people understood the meaning of “charity” – I blogged about it in a post I think entitled “Ardent Charity:…” they would understand the concept of charity is actually the third theological virtue – Love.

      I am republishing that post on Sunday, though, with some updated thoughts!

      Finally, I love the idea about little burial gowns – I will need to remember to pitch that idea to our Catholic women’s knit/crochet ministry. I bet it will be another activity they would love to do.

      Thank you so much for these kind words and great ideas! I will keep your own ministry in prayers this Lenten season!!

      1. Oh that will be a great project for you all. I haven’t had a chance to read your other blogs but I’m going to do that as soon as I am able to read it and really concentrate on the message that you convey. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. I will keep you in mine as well. It’s funny that you mentioned the blog about love because lately it seems that I keep getting messages about seeing all situations with love and so I’m really working on that so I look forward to reading that blog.😊

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