In his announcement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis said, ‘It is my burning desire that during this Jubilee, Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy’. This month WelCom features the spiritual works of mercy.
The Pope says, ‘It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.’
Pope Francis says the Year of Mercy is a response to the world’s need for a ‘revolution of tenderness’ from which ‘justice and all the rest derives’. Francis has aimed to shine a light on the works of mercy, which, as taught by the Catholic Church, are divided into 14 corporal and spiritual. They remain tireless and relevant to each and every society and across all cultures.
According to the Catechism , ‘the works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.’ Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.
In this Year of Mercy Pope Francis has called for Catholics to add a new work of mercy, ‘care for our common home’, which is both a spiritual and a corporate work of mercy. Spiritually it’s a turning away from materialism leading to prayer and contemplation. Corporally it’s our relationship to the land and what we do to look after it. WelCom has been featuring the Corporal Works of Mercy throughout this year. Here are the seven spiritual works of Mercy.
Spiritual Works of Mercy
Ngā Mahi Atawhai a te Wairua
Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, by which we help our neighbours with their emotional and spiritual needs.
counsel the doubtful
Tohutohua te hunga rangirua
Do not be discouraged by doubt, Doubts lead to questions and questions are pathways to growth, discovery and maturity. Set your course on Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life; your best counsel will be the witness of your own life.
‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled…’ Jn. 14:27
instruct the ignorant
Ākona te hunga kuware
Ignorance is an absence of knowledge and not a sign of stupidity. Get to know your own faith better; become part of a faith-sharing group, or a team helping those enquiring about our faith; invite a friend to accompany you to Mass; offer to assist with religious education, especially for children not attending a Catholic school.
‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.’ Mk. 16:1’
Kohetetia te hunga hara
We are not in the business of judging, but neither should we ignore wrongdoing. When you offer correction let it come from an awareness that none of us is perfect. Act on Jesus’ advice in Matthew 7:5 about removing the beam from your own eye first. With Mary, ‘pray for us sinners’.
‘…there will be more joy in Heaven at the repentance of one sinner than at ninety-nine of the righteous who had no need of repentance.’ Lk. 15:7
comfort the afflicted
Whakamārietia te hunga e taimaha ana
Compassion, suffering with the suffering, is a unique and most blessed way of bringing comfort to another person. There are many forms of compassion: being present, being truthful, quietly listening, staying in touch, providing meals, looking after a family, paying for treatment…
‘Come to me, all you grown weary and burdened, and I will refresh you.’ Mt. 11:28
Whakakoretia ngā hara
The forgiveness we seek in the Lord’s Prayer is conditional on the forgiveness we make available to those who offend us. Pray this prayer while calling to mind those you should, but may find difficult to forgive. Remember that mercy helps us to identify with those who are hurting. Pray for the gift of mercy even as you seekit for yourself.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ Mt. 6:12
Bear patiently those who do us ill
Kia manawanui te kawe o ētahi e mahi kino ana ki a mātou
Are you easily annoyed? Are you frustrated by the behaviour of others? Do you have a low tolerance threshold? Remember St Paul’s definition of love begins with Love is patient… (Cor. 13). Try to see the other’s point of view; try counting to ten! Reflect on the words of Jesus about blessing those who do you harm (Matthew 5:43).
‘…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.’ Lk. 6:27-28
To pray for the living and the dead
Īnoia mō te hunga ora me te hunga mate
Prayer is the greatest form of wireless communication! It links us with the Communion of Saints – the living and the dead. Do not underestimate its power. Request a Mass intention for a deceased loved one, or for a sick or troubled friend; remember the anniversaries of the death of people close to you; include the gift of prayer in birthday greetings; offer to assist with intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful in parish liturgy; pray for those who no one remembers. Give thanks for life.
‘Father, I desire that they, too, may be with me where I am…’ Jn. 17:24