Monday, September 8, 2014

The Traditional Works of Mercy

One thing the Bible envisions us doing is encouraging one another. The wonderful word used by the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE) is edifying, or building up. "29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29)."

Now edifying doesn't mean going around saying nice things all the time. When you build up a building, you do many different tasks. Some of them might look pretty destructive in isolation, but it is all part of the great project. The Church has provided further guidance in the old spiritual works of mercy, which we don't hear much about anymore (like so much else).
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offenses willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.
Add to that the commission to spread the Gospel. The Bear supposes God expects you to use common sense in doing these things. The Bear tries to offer a little instruction (not to imply his readers are ignorant, or he's all that smart); to occasionally counsel the doubtful; to comfort the afflicted; and, once in awhile, to admonish sinners. Being a Bear, he is probably not doing a very good job, since to chase horses and to eat honey aren't on the list.

He does, however, remind you of this sound counsel of the Church. You can keep it in mind, if you wish, as a sort of mental checklist of things you should be doing. Certainly, we can all at least forgive offenses patiently and pray for the living and the dead.

And those are just the spiritual works of mercy. Here are the corporal works of mercy.
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbor the harborless (or shelter the homeless);
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive (or visit the prisoner);
  • To bury the dead.
If you do these things, you will please God.


  1. Any thoughts on how giving to support these works fits in? For example, I donate to a Catholic College (really, this one is Catholic), which instructs the ignorant much better than I could.

    Happy Feast of St. Corbinian!

    1. I can only speak for myself. There is obviously something to be said for the personal touch, but the practical reality is that we are all suited for different tasks. I consider the money I give to our homeless shelter to be sheltering the homeless and clothing the naked. The original was "ransom the captives," which is not something many of us have the chance to do (although these days, you never know). They also stand as a challenge, though. Is there an opportunity that I'm missing to visit a lonely old person?

      Bears are not very good at visiting the sick for some reason, but some of us might write a passable blog.

      I would not relay on voting for a particular party, though, as performing these works.

      Even so, you never know when the right opportunity might arise, so it is good to keep these works somewhere in your memory.

      I think we can all do some of these, few can do all of them, but they are good aspirations for everyone.

    2. And thank you for the St.Corbinian wishes. The first batch of cookies were a little thin. It may not be until tonight that I can reveal the finished product. And St. Korbinian's Doppelbock is nowhere to be found!


Moderation is On.

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...