Lent is a wonderful time to put the 7 Spiritual Works and Corporal Works of Mercy into practice. I want to go over the meaning of the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy. They are called Spiritual Works because the deal more with a man’s soul and his relation with God.
Man is a composition of Soul and Body. We as Catholics care about the whole man. The soul is a billion times more important than the body, because it is who we really are and is eternal. The body is important too, but much less so, since it is only the shell for the soul and servant of the soul. The body can either be a good servant helping us to obey God or a bad servant that fights us when we want to do good. That is why the Spiritual Works of Mercy are more important than the Corporal Works of Mercy.
The 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy
1) Admonish the Sinner. This is where we kindly inform sinners that they are sinning. We attempt to explain what the sin is and how it offends God, hurts us, our family and all those around us. This is the most difficult work to do, because most people will get mad and even hate you when you tell them that what they are doing wrong and sinful. We also love these people. So we do a disservice to not inform them. By allowing them to go on sinning, allows them also to be damned forever in fire with the devil and all the demons.
2) Instruct the Ignorant. Many people know very little about Jesus, His Church, What is sin. They know very little about the Bible and Catholic tradition. So when we teach traditional Catholic catechism we are doing a great act of mercy for these people. Holding Bible studies, teaching adults and children catechism and sharing orthodox Catholic books are all very important. In order to do this, we must also study ourselves the 2000 years of Catholic faith so as to be able to teach the truth to the ignorant.
3) Council the Doubtful. Many people have good questions about the Catholic faith. There are many youth who loose their faith just because there was no one there to help them when they had doubts about their Catholic faith. So we want to be available to them to give good answers to their good questions. Also included in this are the people going through very difficult times with their health, marriage and job. Many times difficult periods of doubt arise after the death of a family member or friend. Just spending time helping them understand God’s will in these difficult times is of utmost importance.
4) Comfort the Afflicted (or Sorrowful). People suffer a great deal. Just being a good listener makes a world of difference. All of us appreciate someone who lends us an ear when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. But the greatest comfort comes from our faith. So leading them to God and Mary is one of the best things we can do in these difficult times. We can care, listen and help. But God and Mary are always ready, 24 hours a day to listen and help. And when we take our troubles to them in faith, they really can resolve the problem. God can change our problems in an instant with a miracle.
5) Bear Wrongs Patiently. Each one of us has been betrayed, hurt and lied about. It especially hurts when it comes from someone we love and trusted. But we are admonished by Jesus to not only forgive, but also to love our enemies. At the same time we should stand up for what is correct and do what can be done to stop bad behavior. But the most important thing is to not hold grudges and to go on treating others with love. The Bible says: “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord”. Let God deal out justice. We think we know all the details and reasons behind the action, but the reality is that we only know a part.
6) Forgive offenses willingly. Caring around all the pain of the hurts we have receive during our lives is not christian. We forgive and ask God to forgive us. When someone is truly sorry and asks for forgiveness, we have a moral duty to forgive that person.
7) Pray for the Living and the Dead. During Lent we should spend way more time in prayer. This is a great time to pray for the world’s conversion. We pray for those who are sick. We can offer the stipend to have holy masses offered for the dead. It is a great act of charity to pray and have Holy Masses said for the souls in purgatory. A good thing to do is to have the 30 Gregorian Holy Masses (said 30 days in succession) for our loved ones who have died. The souls in purgatory are suffering horribly. How can we sit around talking about how much we love our dead relatives while they are in the flames of purgatory just waiting for our help.
At all time we can practice these Spiritual works of Mercy. But Lent is oriented toward prayer and works of charity. Putting these in practice helps us grow spiritually too, which is the purpose of Lent after all.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.