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?

6 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.


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