Practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy

We are one week away from Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent!

I already posted some suggestions to friends in the Twin Cities about various retreat and spiritual formation programs to consider during Lent.  As you think about how you will mark Lent this year, what about a focus on the engaging in corporal acts of mercy?

In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

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. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

Recently, the National Catholic Register posted a list of 99 “practical  recommendations” for engaging in the corporal works of mercy.  Their suggestions for feeding the hungry, for example, include: things such as avoiding wasting food, cutting down on food intake, avoiding eating alone, volunteering for organizations that provide food for the hungry and homebound.  Suggestions for visiting/comforting the sick include donating blood, volunteering at a hospital, offering to bring a meal or pick up a prescription for a sick friend or neighbor, and so on.  The 99 recommendations include things that work for people of all income levels and free time and it worth taking a look at.

Now, more than ever, it is important that we take to heart Christ’s words, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  And Lent is a perfect time to commit ourselves to doing so.