Lord Jesus Christ,you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!” You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
The Corporal Works of Mercy
The Corporal Works of Mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and give us a model for how we should treat all others, as if they were Christ in disguise. They “are charitable actions by which we help our neighbors in their bodily needs” (USCCA). They respond to the basic needs of humanity as we journey together through this life.
The seven Corporal Works of Mercy are listed below. After each work of mercy there are also suggestions and words of advice for living them out in our daily lives. Have your own suggestions? Let us know @USCCB and use the hashtag #mercyinmotion.
FEED THE HUNGRY
There are many people in this world who go without food. When so much of our food goes to waste, consider how good stewardship practices of your own food habits can benefit others who do not have those same resources. Two young girls receive food at an outdoor soup kitchen in Washington in late January, 2009. CNS photo/Jim West
Having delicious food at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Donate to a Thanksgiving or Christmas food drive so everyone can have something to eat.
Research, identify and contribute financially to organizations that serve the hungry.
The next time you make a recipe that can be easily frozen, make a double batch and donate one to your local food pantry or soup kitchen.
Try not to purchase more food than you are able to eat. If you notice that you end up throwing groceries away each week, purchasing less groceries would eliminate waste and allow you to donate the savings to those in need.
GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ do not have access to clean water and suffer from the lack of this basic necessity. We should support the efforts of those working towards greater accessibility of this essential resource.
We take it for granted that we have access to clean water. Donate. . . to help build wells for water for those in need
Organize a group of children involved on a sports team (e.g. soccer) or a summer camp. Invite them to collect bottled water to distribute at a shelter for families. If parents can be involved, ask them to accompany their children in delivering the water to the families.
Do the same for youth and young adult groups.
Make an effort not to waste water. Remembering to turn off the water faucet when you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes can help, especially in regions suffering from drought.
SHELTER THE HOMELESS
A homeless man rests on a bench in Baltimore. CNS Photo/Bob RollerThere are many circumstances that could lead to someone becoming a person without a home. Christ encourages us to go out and meet those without homes, affirming their worth and helping them seek a resolution to the challenges they face.
See if your parish or diocese is involved with a local homeless shelter and volunteer some time.
Donate time or money to organizations that build homes for those who need shelter.
Many homeless shelters need warm blankets for their beds. If you can knit or sew that would be an extra loving gift.
There are millions of children and families who are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger and impossible living conditions, and searching for peace and safety. Engage parish groups of children, youth, young adults, and families in doing some research on the causes and challenges that these families face to survive. Contact Catholic Social Services, or diocesan offices of peace and justice for help with your research. Seek ways to provide shelter for the homeless locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.
VISIT THE SICK
Those who are sick are often forgotten or avoided. In spite of their illness, these individuals still have much to offer to those who take the time to visit and comfort them.
Spend time volunteering at a nursing home – Get creative and make use of your talents (e.g. sing, read, paint, call Bingo, etc.)!
Take time on a Saturday to stop and visit with an elderly neighbor.
Offer to assist caregivers of chronically sick family members on a one-time or periodic basis. Give caregivers time off from their caregiving responsibilities so they can rest, complete personal chores, or enjoy a relaxing break.
Next time you make a meal that can be easily frozen, make a double batch and give it to a family in your parish who has a sick loved one.
VISIT THE PRISONERS
People in prison are still people, made in the image and likeness of God. No matter what someone has done, they deserve the opportunity to hear the Word of God and find the Truth of the message of Christ.Pope Francis blesses an inmate at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia in September, 2015. CNS Photo/Paul Haring
See if your parish, or a nearby parish, has a prison ministry and if so, get involved.
Volunteer to help out or donate to charities that give Christmas presents to children whose parents are in prison.
BURY THE DEAD
Funerals give us the opportunity to grieve and show others support during difficult times. Through our prayers and actions during these times we show our respect for life, which is always a gift from God, and comfort to those who mourn.
Send a card to someone who has recently lost a loved one. Make your own card and use some of these prayers.
Visit the cemetery and pray for those you have lost.
Spend time planning your own funeral mass, read through the Order of Christian Funerals and find our hope in the Resurrection.
GIVE ALMS TO THE POOR
Donate money to organizations that have the ability to provide support and services for those in need. Do research and find organizations that put people in need first, rather than profit.
Skip the morning latte and put that money in the collection basket at church.
Find a charity that is meaningful to you and volunteer your time or donate.
This Lent, give up eating out at restaurants. Pack you meals and donate the extra money to charities.
Participate in Operation Rice Bowl. . .
The Spiritual Works Of Mercy
The Spiritual Works of Mercy have long been a part of the Christian tradition, appearing in the works of theologians and spiritual writers throughout history. Just as Jesus attended to the spiritual well-being of those he ministered to, these Spiritual Works of Mercy guide us to “help our neighbor in their spiritual needs” (USCCA).
The seven Spiritual Works of Mercy are listed below. After each work of mercy there are also suggestions and words of advice for living them out in our daily lives. Have your own suggestions? Let us know @USCCB using the hashtag #mercyinmotion!
COUNSELING THE DOUBTFUL
Everyone has moments of doubt in their faith journey. Nevertheless, we should always remember that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and turn to him along our way.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may eventually become wise” (Prov 19:20)
The Cross of Christ “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25)
Has someone asked you for advice? Orient your response to Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
Follow Christ with the witness of your life so that others may see God’s love revealed in your actions
Accompany a friend who is struggling with believing to join a parish group for service or faith formation, share a book you found useful in dealing with your friend’s faith concern, and worship at Sunday Mass
INSTRUCTING THE IGNORANT
Learn about our faith and be open to talking with others about our beliefs. There is always something more to discover about our faith.
Go on a service trip or short term mission trip. No time? Donate to support someone on their service trip
Volunteer to help with religious education programs at your parish
Invite someone to go to mass with you this weekend
Know your faith! Read through the USCCA to find out more about the Catholic faith and how to live it
ADMONISHING THE SINNER
Do not judge, but be supportive in helping others find their way and correct their mistakes. Together we can learn to walk more closely with Christ.confession
In humility we must strive to create a culture that does not accept sin, while realizing that we all fall at times
Don’t judge, but guide others towards the path of salvation (see Mt 7:1-2)
When you correct someone, don’t be arrogant. We are all in need of God’s loving correction.
We should journey together to a deeper understanding of our shared faith
“Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5)
COMFORTING THE SORROWFUL
Be open to listening and comforting those who are dealing with grief. Even if we aren’t sure of the right words to say, our presence can make a big difference.
Lend a listening ear to those going through a tough time
Make a home cooked meal for a friend who is facing a difficult time
Write a letter or send a card to someone who is suffering
A few moments of your day may make a lifetime of difference to someone who is going through a difficult time
Forgiving others is difficult at times because we do not have God’s limitless mercy and compassion. But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on him to help us show others the mercy of God
Let go of grudges
Saying sorry is something we learn as kids, but how often do we really mean it? Forgiveness transforms hearts and lives
Participate in the Sacrament of Penance
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
BEARING WRONGS PATIENTLY
Do not be bitter about wrongs done against you. Place your hope in God so that you can endure the troubles of this world and face them with a compassionate spirit.
Frustrated with someone? Step away from the situation, take a few deep breaths, pray the Our Father, asking God for patience
PRAYING FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others. Joining together in prayer for the living and the dead entrusts us all into God’s care.Parishioners pray the rosary near Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission in Phoenix after a priest was killed and another critically injured during an attack at the mission in June 2014. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who is going through a tough time
Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who has passed away
Keep your own book of prayer intentions, writing down the names of those who you are keeping in your prayers
Ask a friend or family member if there is anything you can pray for them about
Through prayer, entrust your cares and concerns for those around you to God
Ps 136; MV, no. 7
“Praise the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever . . .
Who skillfully made the heavens, for his mercy endures forever . . .
Who split in two the Red Sea, for his mercy endures forever . . .
Who struck down great kings, for his mercy endures forever . . .
The Lord remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endures forever .
Praise the God of heaven, for his mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1, 5, 13, 17, 23, 26)
As Lent comes to a close, we prepare to celebrate the Triduum followed by the Resurrection of Christ at Easter. Psalm 136 reminds us that,even before the events of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, God has always been merciful in his actions and will always continue to be. In this psalm, we see examples of the way God’s loving mercy has been displayed in history—in creation, the exodus, and God’s defense of his Chosen People. As each of these events is described, God’s mercy is continually remembered and invoked.
By repeating the refrain “his mercy endures forever,” we arereminded that God’s mercy knows no bounds.Pope Francis notes that this phrase “seems to break through the dimensions of space and time,inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history, but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father” (MV, no. 7).
Just as our Lenten journey has been filled with works of mercy, so too is the celebration and remembrance of Christ’s Passion, Death,and Resurrection. Christ’s Paschal Mystery is the ultimate sign of God’s mercy, because through it we are saved. In the Paschal Mystery, God offers a concrete sign of his merciful love. Through our participation in the sacraments, we enter into the Paschal Mystery and draw closer to God. For example, in Baptism, we die to sin and rise to new life in Christ, being made sharers in Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
At the Easter Vigil, the whole of salvation history will be played out on a small scale—we will hear readings that highlight the beginning of creation, Abraham and Isaac, the exodus, the covenants God has made with his people, and the Resurrection of Christ. After the readings,those who have been preparing to enter the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) will celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. In each of these, the new members of the Church are drawn deeper into the Paschal Mystery. Those gathered to witness these celebrations are also drawn deeper into the loving mercy of God by renewing their own commitment to their faith and encouraging the new members in their faith.
1. Read through some of the important stories in salvation history (creation, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, etc. Check out these readings, which could be read during the Easter Vigil!). What do these teach us about God’s mercy? How do God’s actions in these situations affect the way we understand God’s continual salvific work in our lives today? How do our actions of compassion fit into salvation history?
2. Try to attend your parish’s Easter Vigil celebration this year. What are some symbols and actions that you experience during the celebration that recall God’s merciful actions throughout salvation history? How does the initiation of new members into the Church demonstrate God’s mercy?