In my last blog, I proposed the idea of spending more time at leisure this Lent in order to contemplate God’s beauty. In this blog, I would like to suggest another idea that is complementary. Contemplation of God leads to action, so let your contemplation of His Beauty lead to communication of His Beauty. The Corporal Works of Mercy are excellent ways to transmit the beauty of God’s love to others.
Below are some practical ways to carry out the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy within the context of your ordinary daily life. Many days, you may be able to do nothing more than say a prayer for those in need of a particular Work of Mercy, but don’t underestimate the power of your prayer, and remember that just the fact that you took the time to think and pray for those in need is itself something meritorious.
I suggest assigning a particular Work of Mercy to each day of the week, as I do below. Each day, strive to be generous, but do what you realistically fits within your particular state of life.
Feed the hungry (Mondays)
- Prepare an extra nice meal for your family or friends.
- Make a donation to a charity that feeds the poor (like Food for the Poor).
- Bring a food donation to your local soup kitchen.
- Say a special prayer for those suffering from hunger.
Give drink to the thirsty (Tuesdays)
- Make a donation to help those in a drought-stricken area. (Catholic Relief Services has some exceptional programs to help alleviate the water needs of the poor in Ethiopia.)
- Offer to bring a drink to a family member. (Remember what Christ said, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” – Matthew 10:42)
- Say a special prayer for rain for those suffering from drought.
Clothe the naked (Wednesdays)
- If you are a parent, take the time to go clothes shopping for your children.
- Gather up old clothes in your house and give them to Goodwill or Salvation Army or some other charity.
- Say a special prayer for the poor in need of good clothing.
Shelter the homeless (Thursdays)
- Do something to improve your home for your family. (Organize a messy closet, clean a room, or fix something that has been needing it for a while.)
- Volunteer at or make a donation to your local homeless shelter.
- Say a special prayer for a homeless person whom you have seen recently.
Care for the sick (Fridays)
- Visit a sick loved one or friend.
- Call an elderly family member family or friend to check up on him.
- Volunteer some time at a local nursing home.
- Pray for someone you know who is struggling with a serious illness.
Visit the imprisoned (Saturdays)
- Consider volunteering in some way to help prisoners. (Prison Fellowship has opportunities to volunteer on its website.)
- Pray for someone you know or heard about who has recently been imprisoned.
Bury the dead (Sundays)
- Make a stop at your local cemetery to pray for the repose of the souls of the people buried there.
- Leave flowers at the grave of a family member or friend.
If you are consistent in trying to do something each day this Lent, no matter how small, you will experience in a new way the joy of living these words of Our Lord:
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” – Matthew 25:40