Works of Mercy: Lent 2024

North Texas Catholic
(Feb 9, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

Seeds of Life volunteer Karen McDwyer, of Holy Redeemer in Aledo, brings clothes to a client during a baby clothes giveaway on Nov. 10, 2022. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Mercy is often defined as love in action. The greatest display of love in action is the cross of Jesus where the love of God pours forth from the wounds of Christ in the blood and water of His Divine Mercy.

With Lent around the corner, we are all looking for ways to observe this sacred season, and a fantastic way to do this is to offer acts of mercy in the world around us. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus delineates some specific actions we are to do to the “least of these” and how when we do these actions for others, we do them to Him as well. These ideas are gathered up and presented to us by the Church as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. 
Each of these works is listed below with practical ways to put them into action. As you read the list, ask Jesus if you are called to do one or two of these works of mercy for Lent this year. Maybe this can be a list you return to year after year.

Corporal Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry
• Donate or serve a meal program for the homeless or poor.
• Organize a food drive or assist at your local food pantry. 
• Drive for Meals on Wheels.
• Fast from meat every Friday all year and an extra day in Lent as an act of solidarity with people around the world who go hungry.
• Donate to Operation Rice Bowl or local food banks.
• Keep nonperishable food in your car for people you see living on the streets.
• Offer to sponsor food for a youth group night or confirmation class at your parish —  teenagers are always “the hungry.”
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Volunteers with Catholic Charities and staff members participate in a day of service for CCFW, on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at the offices of Catholic Charities in Fort Worth. (NTC/Ben Torres)
• Examine your monthly water bill and how you might cut back. Share the money saved with Catholic Relief Services to help fund its water projects.
• Donate bottled water, juice, or money to a food pantry. 
• Keep water in your car and give it to people on the street. 
• Sponsor a cooler of cokes and waters for youth group nights at your parish.
Clothe the Naked
• Donate gently used clothing to people in need.
• Contact shelters for a list of articles needed by their clients and organize a donation drive.
• Donate new or gently used baby clothing to pregnancy centers.
• Cassata Catholic High School: Donate to help a student purchase uniforms; they also have a closet for students when they get internships and a closet for baby items for their students who are parents.
Shelter the Homeless
• Volunteer at local shelters. They often need help with meals and cleaning, painting, and organizing closets.
• Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
• Volunteer for Cowtown Brush-up, a program to paint houses for families who need this service.
Comfort the Sick
• Check with the church office for parishioners who have needs, like rides to doctor visits and odd jobs around their house.
• Volunteer at a local hospital or hospice facility in your area.
• Visit nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Call ahead and talk to the activities director, maybe you can sponsor bingo on a Saturday.
Shani Ginani, a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Arlington, collects diapers and other baby essentials for a client on October 6, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)
Visit the Imprisoned
• Be a companion or mentor to a family of someone incarcerated.
• Be an advocate for prison reform.
• Visit the lonely in your parish.
• Visit nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Many people have no one to talk to and just want companionship. 
Bury the Dead
• Be faithful about attending wakes and funerals of family and friends.
• And even for people you don’t know, most parishes publicize the funerals that they have. Just go and pray for the deceased and the family.
• Pray for all who have died in Christ's peace, especially those who have no one to pray for them.
• Join a bereavement ministry at your parish.
• Supply a dish of food for a family who has lost a loved one.
• Examine your life to see what old grudges you have refused to relinquish and choose to bury them by reconciling with others.

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Instruct the Ignorant
• Volunteer as a religious education aide or teacher in your parish.
• Attend classes for R.C.I.A.
• Be a sponsor for R.C.I.A.
• Attend or hold a Bible study group.
• If you are a godparent or sponsor, meet with these people and talk about faith; maybe go to Mass with them and then out to eat and talk about the readings and homily.
Counsel the Doubtful
• Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for them.
• Read Forming Intentional Disciples and learn about the stages of conversion and use this information to journey with people who are seeking to convert.
• Accompany a friend who is not a churchgoer.
• Invite someone to attend Mass with you.
Admonish Sinners
• Make a thoughtful and heartfelt confession (sometimes we are the ones that need to be admonished).
• Take your children to confession on a regular basis.
• Don’t be shy about telling others you go to confession. Invite them to join you.
Members of the Millions of Monicas ministry at St. Martin de Porres Church in Prosper pray together for their children who left the faith August 9, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo) 
Bear Wrongs Patiently
• Be a good listener.
• Be an advocate for Social Justice issues such as the "March For Life."
• Study Catholic Social Teaching to be better informed as to how the Gospel can impact the society we live in.
• Pray while reading the news.
• Remain silent instead of arguing just to argue. This is especially useful on social media.
Forgive Offenses Willingly
• Pray for the person who has offended you, asking God's help in showing mercy to others. Sometimes it takes a while — be patient and persistent in this prayer.
• Say you are sorry with meaning when you are wrong.
• Participate in the sacrament of Penance.
• Pray the "Our Father," asking God for patience.
• Watch Fr. Mike Schmitz speak on forgiveness in his YouTube video. 
Comfort the Afflicted
• Volunteer at a hospice or hospital. 
• Become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and take Holy Communion to the sick.
• Make a home-cooked meal for a friend who is facing a difficult time.
• Send a message and/or card to someone who is suffering.
Pray for the Living and the Dead
• Request a Mass intention for a friend or family member who has lost a loved one.
• Reach out to people who have lost loved ones 3, 6, or 12 months after the passing, especially during the holidays. A simple text saying “I’m remembering you at Mass today” is a simple and meaningful way to let them know they are not alone, and their grief is not forgotten.
• Pray for all who have died in Christ's peace, especially those who have no one to pray for them.
• Make a prayer list of all the people who need prayer.
• Rosary prayer list: For each bead, assign a name or a cause. Before you pray the prayer for that bead, pray for that intention.
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