Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
Too often works of mercy become a humanistic endeavor where one feels obligated to help out of peer pressure or because it's the thing to do and one will gain some temporal reward either financially or in praise and so they become philanthropic without realizing it doesn't amount to a hill of beans when push comes to shove except that the recipient may have gained temporal relief of some kind. Too many fail to realize for something to truly be a work of mercy and gain merit in Heaven it must be done out of love for our neighbor because of our love for God first and foremost. Without God as the Keystone of all we do, all is futile. That is why the corporal works of mercy cannot stand on their own without the spiritual works of mercy. Yet, both are vital in our cooperation with salvation for ourselves and our neighbor.
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
Corporal Works of Mercy
Giving alms to a beggar is a corporal work of mercy. God looks upon charity given to the poor as an act of charity to Himself. Jesus Christ Himself said this in St. Matthew 25:40.
To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves, we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
Spiritual works of mercy are those that relieve spiritual needs of our neighbor. Corporal works of mercy are those that relieve corporal or material needs of our neighbor. "Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, even so do you also to them" (St. Matthew 7:12). In this issue we will deal with the Corporal works of mercy; in the next issue the Spiritual works of mercy.
The chief corporal works of mercy are seven:
Saint Louis of France provided daily food to the poor, and often served them himself. Many charitable people today, especially the religious institutions, feed the hungry. Lay people can help out best by giving work to all they can afford to help; work is better for the able-bodied than direct alms-giving.
The story of Saint Martin, giving half his cloak to a beggar, exemplifies this work of mercy.
In the Middle Ages the Order of Ransom was founded for the ransom of Christians held captive by the Turks. It is said that more than a million Christians were thus ransomed, either with money, or by others taking their place. In the 19th century Cardinal Lavigerie established the Order of the White Fathers, aimed at freeing slaves in Africa.
Saint Paul said: "Hospitality do not forget; for by this some, not being aware of it, have entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2). In olden times travelers stopped for the night or for food in the monasteries. In the Alps, the monks of Saint Bernard perform this work of mercy when they rescue, with the aid of their famous breed of dogs, travelers who have met with accidents.
When we teach catechism we are performing a spiritual work of mercy. Many can do this work today, if they only would. Numerous persons, even at an advanced age, do not know the essentials of their religion, for want of someone to teach them.
The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven:
In admonishing sinners, we must do so with gentleness and charity. Otherwise we might only produce results the opposite of what we wish. It would be wrong, if with a little trouble we could save a sinner from sin, did we not speak to save him; it would, moreover, be a loss of great grace for ourselves. "He who causes a sinner to be brought back from his misguided way, will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).
Previously: Step Twenty-eight: Loving Friend and Foe
For all steps to date, see Archives of Catholicism Made Simple
Catholicism Made Simple