Sunday, November 8, 2020 –
Welcome to another round of super basic primers! In this set we are going to be discussing the Corporal Works of Mercy. We will eventually get to the Spiritual Works of Mercy, but I like to start with the “tangible” side because I find that people tend to “get” them easier than the Spiritual Works. Just my opinion, though…
Why do we need Works of Mercy? To satisfy (eliminate) the temporal punishment of sin. Here is what the Baltimore Catechism #3 says:
Q. 805. Which are the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin?
A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving; all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.
Great! Buutttt…we also need to distinguish why there are two sets of Works of Mercy. Not to worry, BC#3 also has us covered:
Q. 812. How can we know spiritual from corporal works of mercy?
A. We can know spiritual from corporal works of mercy, for whatever we do for the soul is a spiritual work, and whatever we do for the body is a corporal work.
The Baltimore Catechism goes on to speak more specifically about the Corporal Works of Mercy, the general definition of them, and how Christians can be aided in doing these works.
Q. 819. Which are the chief corporal works of mercy?
A. The chief corporal works of mercy are seven: 1.To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead.
Q. 820. How may we briefly state the corporal works of mercy?
A. We may briefly state the corporal works of mercy by saying that we are obliged to help the poor in all their forms of want.
Q. 821. How are Christians aided in the performance of works of mercy?
A. Christians are aided in the performance of works of mercy through the establishment of charitable institutions where religious communities of holy men or women perform these duties for us, provided we supply the necessary means by our almsgiving and good works.
Oh goodie! A list! Here you go; the Corporal Works of Mercy:
- To feed the hungry
- To give drink to the thirsty
- To clothe the naked
- To harbor the harborless (AKA shelter the homeless)
- To visit the sick
- To ransom the captive (AKA free the imprisoned)
- To bury the dead
I am trying to think of the best way to go into each of these, and me-thinks that some examples might be the best approach. I mean, the Corporal Works of Mercy **seem** fairly obvious, but ya know…2020 and all, and people done lost their fuzzin minds!
Anyhoo, back to the issue at hand. Yes, I think that we will cover each of these with some hearty examples as well as a healthy dose of Baltimore Catechismand Bishop Morrow, whom we haven’t heard from in a while. So, onward!
Sancte Gabriel, ora pro nobis!