The Corporal Works of Mercy are kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their everyday material and physical needs. Of course, there are some ways we already practice our love of God, neighbor, and self. Most of the corporal works of mercy are taken from our Lord’s description of the Last Judgment (Matt 25: 34-46), and from Tobias chapters 1 and 2.
Whenever you reach out to someone individually, or when you participate in our parish outreach efforts to those in need, you are practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy. If you are just beginning to consider how you and your family can live out these Works of Mercy, here are a few other ideas to get you started, or come up with your own.
1.To feed the hungry.
Everyone needs food for their body. It is an act of love to help others to obtain their bodily nourishment, especially those in greatest need.
- Bringing food to the poor,
- Donating money to buy food for the poor,
- Sharing your food or candy,
- Helping to shop for groceries,
- Helping with the cooking, doing dishes,
- Waiting on company.
- If someone is hungry for attention, or for your time, give them some of yours.
- Take time to reflect on all the food we do have, and say a prayer of thanks that we have food to eat.
- Make time to eat dinner, or as many meals as possible
- Share a meal and some conversation with someone who might otherwise be alone today, or who might otherwise not eat today.
- Eat a little less whenever possible, and collect the savings to give to the poor.
- Consciously avoid wasting food as much as possible, whatever money is saved by not wasting can be collected and used to help someone in need.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
What is said of food also applies to drink.
- Giving someone a drink on a hot day,
- Giving the baby its bottle, pouring drinks at the table,
- Lifting up a young child to get a drink at a water fountain.
- To clothe the naked.
Everyone needs clothing for warmth, protection, modesty and dignity. It is an act of love to help others obtain clothing, especially those who need help.
- Bringing clothes to a needy family,
- Sharing outgrown clothes with another family,
- Bringing clothes to a clothing drive,
- Helping a young child get dressed,
- Helping with laundry at home.
- Support the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
- To visit the imprisoned.
Those in prison and many other persons and their families suffer hindrances or dangers to freedom. Helping them, visiting them or protecting them is an act of love.
- Visiting prisoners,
- Fighting for humane treatment for the imprisoned,
- Helping to care for the families of the imprisoned,
- Protecting a little child from a bigger child,
- Taking care of and protecting the baby,
- Fighting for one’s country.
- Call or visit someone who you know is imprisoned by fear, or anger, or hatred, or illness. Your kindness can help to free them.
- Support job-training and educational programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners;
- Pray for the families of inmates;
- It also means ransoming the innocent and people who have been kidnapped.
- To shelter the homeless.
Everyone needs shelter. Some people live in cardboard homes; some people live in homes made of discarded materials; many people are homeless. To help the homeless obtain shelter or to preserve it is an act of love.
- Bringing others to your home in times of fire, floods, or other disaster.
- Working at or supporting a homeless shelter. Helping to take care of the house,
- dusting the furniture, making the beds, cleaning the floor, and cutting the grass, repairs,
- Give thanks as a family for the home you live in, and express gratitude to God
- Consider becoming a foster parent to give a child a safe home offer to help neighbors to care for their homes and do repairs. In helping your neighbors, you develop stronger communities of caring.
- To visit the sick.
Helping sick people in any way is an act of love.
- Spend quality time with people you know who are sick or homebound,
- Take the time to call, send a card, or email them.
- Visiting the elderly who are shut-ins.
- Running an errand for an elderly or sick person.
- Reading to the sick or elderly.
- Volunteer to drive patients to medical appointments and treatment facilities;
- Volunteer at a hospital;
- Assist those who are full-time caregivers for family members;
- To bury the dead.
It is an act of love to show respect for the bodies of the dead, since during life, they were temples of the Holy Spirit and received the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.
- Going to funerals and wakes.
- Treating cemeteries with respect.
- Cutting the grass on a grave. Putting flowers on it
- Bring a casserole or a meal to the family of someone who has died.
- Spend time with people you know who have lost a loved one.
- Offer daily prayers for those who are terminally ill, and for those who have died..
- Take someone to visit the cemetery if they can’t get there on their own.
- Support ministries that offer free Christian burials to those unable to afford one;
- Support or volunteer at a hospice;
- Pray specially for innocent victims, especially those in conflict regions, victims of violent crime and aborted babies.
“Christ has no body on earth now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people” St. Theresa of Avila.
Our works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual, will always appear inadequate compared to the needs of the world around us. But our Lord does not ask us to meet every need. We are only asked to do what we can and leave the rest to Him as He works out His loving plan for each human soul. Remember the “five loaves and two fish principle.” He can work miracles with such little offerings. Some of those miracles we will never even see with our own eyes until we meet Him face-to-face in heaven. It is then when He will give us the grace to see what He sees; it is then when He will turn His loving gaze upon us and we will hear those blessed words from His own lips: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt 25:23)
For more specific information about how you can implement or help out any of the opportunities listed above, please call 08023062501 or visit Afara Leadership Centre at 25 Thorburn Avenue, off Commercial Avenue, Sabo, Yaba. Lagos.