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Do you know the spiritual works of mercy?

In our Bible Study last Tuesday, we honed in on the main connection between this Sunday’s readings: “admonish the sinner.” This is one of the spiritual works of mercy that we are called to perform. In the first reading, the Lord says through the prophet Ezekiel, “speak out to dissuade the wicked.” And, in the Gospel, the Lord Jesus taught the Apostles, “go and tell (your brother who sins) his fault.” We know and live the corporal works of mercy well:

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Ransom the captive
  • Bury the dead

But, how well do we know the spiritual works of mercy? The following write-up on them from usccb.org should help.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

More about Spiritual Works of Mercy

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.

  • Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may eventually become wise” (Prov 19:20)
  • The Cross of Christ “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25)
  • Has someone asked you for advice? Orient your response to Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • Follow Christ with the witness of your life so that others may see God’s love revealed in your actions
  • Accompany a friend who is struggling with believing to join a parish group for service or faith formation, share a book you found useful in dealing with your friend’s faith concern, and 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.

  • Go on a service trip or short-term mission trip. No time? Donate to support someone on their service trip
  • Volunteer to help with religious education programs at your parish
  • Invite someone to go to mass with you this weekend
  • Know your faith! Read through the USCCA to find out more about the Catholic faith and how to live it

ADMONISHING THE SINNER

Do not judge, but be supportive in helping others find their way and correct their mistakes. Together we can learn to walk more closely with Christ.

  • In humility, we must strive to create a culture that does not accept sin, while realizing that we all fall at times
  • Don’t judge, but guide others towards the path of salvation (see Mt 7:1-2)
  • When you correct someone, don’t be arrogant. We are all in need of God’s loving correction.
  • We should journey together to a deeper understanding of our shared faith
  • “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5)

COMFORTING THE SORROWFUL

Be open to listening and comforting those who are dealing with grief. Even if we aren’t sure of the right words to say, our presence can make a big difference.

  • Lend a listening ear to those going through a tough time
  • Make a home cooked meal for a friend who is facing a difficult time
  • Write a letter or send a card to someone who is suffering
  • A few moments of your day may make a lifetime of difference to someone who is going through a difficult time

FORGIVING INJURIES

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
  • Saying sorry is something we learn as kids, but how often do we really mean it? Forgiveness transforms hearts and lives
  • Participate in the Sacrament of Penance
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet

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.

  • Frustrated with someone? 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
  • Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who has passed away
  • Keep your own book of prayer intentions, writing down the names of those who you are keeping in your prayers
  • Ask a friend or family member if there is anything you can pray for them about
  • Through prayer, entrust your cares and concerns for those around you to God

Seven Sins That Kill the Life of Sanctifying Grace

During one of our parish’s Bible studies last week, we discussed sin as one of the themes of today’s readings. Someone raised the question about how to examine your conscience in preparing for Confession. People suggested the Ten Commandments which is correct and used for most guides to Confession (like the one we have in the vestibule of the church). I offered the seven deadly sins as an additional way to examine your conscience – which we shouldn’t just do for Confession but every night as well.

So, as the Church begins the season of Lent in order to repent and move away from sin, here is a list and explanation of the seven deadly sins, as well as the corresponding virtue of each (dummies.com).

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

The Seven Deadly Sins

The Catholic Church maintains that seven vices in particular lead to breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments. These particular bad habits are called the seven deadly sins because, according to Catholicism, they’re mortal sins — sins that kill the life of sanctifying grace.

Pope Gregory the Great made up the list in the 6th century, and in the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer popularized them in his Canterbury Tales.

Pride

The inordinate love of self – a super-confidence and high esteem in your own abilities also known as vanity. Pride fools you into thinking that you’re the source of your own greatness.

Liking yourself isn’t sinful. In fact, it’s healthy and necessary, but when the self-perception no longer conforms to reality, and you begin to think that you’re more important than you actually are, the sin of pride is rearing its ugly head.

Humility is the best remedy for pride. Catholicism regards humility as recognizing that talent is really a gift from God.

Envy 

Resenting another person’s good fortune or joy. Catholicism distinguishes between two kinds of envy:

  • Material envy is when you resent others who have more money, talent, strength, beauty, friends, and so on, than you do.
  • Spiritual envy is resenting others who progress in holiness, preferring that they stay at or below your level instead of being joyful and happy that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Spiritual envy is far worse and more evil than material envy.

The Church maintains that meekness or kindness can counter envy.

Lust 

Looking at, imagining, and treating others as mere sex objects to serve your own physical pleasures, rather than as individuals made in the image and likeness of God.

Chastity, the virtue that moderates sexual desire, is the best remedy for lust. Chastity falls under temperance and can help to keep physical pleasure in moderation.

Anger 

The sudden outburst of emotion — namely hostility — and thoughts about the desire for revenge. You have no control over what angers you, but you do have control over what you do after you become angry…

Patience, the virtue that allows you to adapt and endure evil without harboring any destructive feelings, is the best countermeasure for anger.

Gluttony 

Choosing to over-consume food or alcohol. Enjoying a delightful dinner isn’t sinful, but intentionally overeating to the point where you literally get sick to your stomach is. So, too, having an alcoholic beverage now and then (provided that you don’t suffer from alcoholism) is not sinful in the eyes of the Church. But drinking to the point of drunkenness is.

Legitimate eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, aren’t gluttony. They’re medical conditions that require treatment and care. Gluttony is voluntary and merely requires self-control and moderation.

Periodic fasting, restricting the amount of food you eat, and abstinence, avoiding meat or some favorite food, are the best defenses against gluttony. (Temperance)

Greed

The inordinate love of and desire for earthly possessions. Amassing a fortune and trying to accumulate the most stuff is greed, sometimes called avarice. Next to anger, envy, and lust, more crimes have been committed due to greed than any other deadly sin.

Generosity is the best weapon against greed. Freely giving some of your possessions away, especially to those less fortunate, is considered the perfect antithesis to greed and avarice.

Sloth 

(sometimes called acedia) is laziness — particularly when it concerns prayer and spiritual life. Sloth is always wanting to rest and relax, with no desire or intention of making a sacrifice or doing something for others. It’s an aversion to work — physical, mental, and spiritual.

Spiritual laziness can only be overcome by practicing the virtue of diligence, which is the habit of keeping focused and paying attention to the work at hand — be it the work of employment or the work of God.