Saturday, November 21, 2020 –
Seriously, people! We have been at this for 250 days!? Oh my lanta!
Anyhoo, today we are going to start covering the “Kumbaya” section of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. To be specific, today will cover: to comfort the sorrowful.
Weirdly, this is the only one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy that Baltimore Catechism #3 does not have a separate Q&A. But, good news, everybody! Bishop Morrow does have a mini paragraph on it:
Which are the chief spiritual works of mercy?—The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven:…
4. To comfort the sorrowful.—We can comfort the afflicted by showing them sincere sympathy, by suggesting consolations, and by helping them in their need.
To comfort the sorrowful is a work of mercy similar to curing the sick, since grief is a mental and emotional ailment. To give comfort, we may speak of God’s providence, of His love for every single one of His creatures, of the happiness He reserves for us in heaven, when all earthly sorrows and troubles will end. (Bishop Morrow, My Catholic Faith, p. 181)
Truthfully, how many of us have had a dreadful day (or year…ahem…hello 2020!), and someone comes along and tries to comfort you, but we are so stuck in the dumps that you end up decking them? Believe it or not, that person trying to comfort you is doing a work of mercy, and you probably should not deck them.
Personally, I think this is the hardest work of mercy. Maybe I am just a psychopath that has trouble relating to people. On the surface, this is basically telling us that when we see someone having a bad day, give them a hug and let them know you care. However, a lot of us really hate hugs. More importantly, this work of mercy is much more than that!
Like Bishop Morrow says, this is akin to the Corporal Work of Mercy, healing the sick. You have before you a person who is deeply suffering. While their sorrow is a mental and emotional issue, the pain they feel is quite real.
Take for example a widow who has just lost her husband. What she wants more than anything in the world is to have her beloved husband back. Unless it is the Second Coming and nobody told me, you do not have the ability to raise him from the dead. However, you do have the ability to spend time with the widow. You can comfort her, pray with her, pray for the repose of the soul of her husband, and help her to know God’s love.
That is not to say it is ever easy to comfort someone. Many times, you simply do not have the right words to say. If only a simple hug or “dude, that is rough!” worked! We are simply called to pray for the afflicted, regardless if they want our help right then and there. You cannot **make** someone not sad, but you can help them (over time) gain peace and comfort.
Sancte Iacobe (maior), ora pro nobis!