During this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis calls us to become more merciful in our own lives and to bring God’s mercy to others. Through Works of Mercy, we extend God’s compassion and love to those in need, and show compassion for, and make efforts to alleviate, another’s misfortune. The Spiritual Works of Mercy have long been a part of the Christian tradition, appearing in the works of theologians and spiritual writers throughout history. Below are the Seven Spiritual Acts of Mercy, as well as practical suggestions on how you can incorporate them into your daily life.
Counseling the doubtful
Everyone has moments of doubt in their faith journey. Nevertheless, we should always remember that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and turn to him along our way. Accompany a friend who is struggling to join a faith formation, share a book you found useful in dealing with your friend’s faith concern, or ask them to join you in worship at Sunday Mass.
Instructing the ignorant
Learn about our faith and be open to talking with others about our beliefs. There is always something more to discover about our faith. Consider volunteering to help with religious education programs at church.
Admonishing the sinner
Do not judge, but be supportive in helping others find their way and correct their mistakes. Seek guidance and penance through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Comforting the sorrowful
Be open to listening and comforting those who are dealing with grief. Even if you’re unsure of the right words to say, your presence can make a big difference. Lend a listening ear to those going through a tough time, or write a letter or send a card to someone who is suffering.
Forgiving others is difficult at times because we do not have God’s limitless mercy and compassion. But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on him to help us show others the mercy of God. Let go of grudges and say sorry meaningfully.
Bearing wrongs patiently
Do not be bitter about wrongs done against you. Place your hope in God so that you can endure the troubles of this world and face them with a compassionate spirit. If frustrated, step away from the situation, take a few deep breaths, pray the Our Father, asking God for patience.
Praying for the living and the dead
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others. Joining together in prayer for the living and the dead entrusts us all into God’s care. Request a Mass intention for a friend or family member who is going through a tough time or has passed away. Through prayer, entrust your cares and concerns for those around you to God.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
— Matthew 25:35-36