Sunday, November 15, 2020 –
The last Corporal Work of Mercy! Yes, dear readers, we have made it to the end. Today we will be talking about the most appropriate Corporal Work of Mercy for the month of November: to bury the dead.
Here is what Bishop Morrow says:
Which are the chief corporal works of mercy? – The chief corporal works of mercy are seven:…
7. To bury the dead.—To attend a funeral visit a house of morning, or aid the bereaved family, are works of merit.
Other corporal works of mercy are: helping out during a fire or accident, rescuing one in danger of death, etc. Every word or act done in the name of or for the sake of Christ is a work of merc, and will be rewarded. (Bishop Morrow, My Catholic Faith, p. 181)
This particular Corporal Work of Mercy always weirded out my 3rd graders because they inevitably thought the Church was telling them to literally dig graves. Yes…and no.
Of course, if you are physically able and the need arises, go dig graves. Note: I am NOT telling you to dig a grave for your spouse or sibling who just pissed you off! Remember, kiddos, life insurance does not pay out if you murder someone, nor does it pay out if you bury the body without a death certificate. #TheMoreYouKnow
As with all our other works of mercy, this work also encompasses other things:
- Going to a funeral
- Helping to provide meals for a grieving family
- Visiting a gravesite
- Helping to pay for a funeral or casket for someone less fortunate
- Rescuing someone in danger of death
- Calling 911 when you see an accident or someone in danger
- Comforting those near the end of their earthly life**
**This does NOT mean participating in euthanasia or holding someone’s hand while they commit suicide. Taking one’s life—including euthanasia for the terminally ill—is always against the dignity of a human being and is therefore against Church teaching. As a Catholic—as a human being—you CANNOT participate or aid in the hastening of someone’s death. You also CANNOT sit with someone while they take their life.
The Church is not without compassion, though. We embrace palliative care and hospice, and we are encouraged to lovingly care for and visit those among us who are nearing the end of their earthly life. Spend time daily with those in hospice. Read to them, pray with them, help them with their basic needs like washing, changing clothes, eating, etc. Remember that these persons are still children of God. They deserve your love and respect.
Sancte Ioannes Baptista, ora pro nobis!