The Corporal Works of Mercy The Spiritual Works of Mercy
- Feed the Hungry • Instruct the Ignorant
- Give Drink to the Thirsty • Counsel the Doubtful
- Clothe the Naked • Admonish the Sinner
- Shelter the Homeless • Bear Wrongs Patiently
- Visit the Sick • Forgive Offenses Willingly
- Visit those in Prison • Comfort the Afflicted
- Bury the Dead • Pray for the Living and the Dead
1 John 3:17
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
“We are ALL in this Together”
The first time I had heard this said was when my son was playing youth soccer. There were some undeniably competitive parents on the sideline. I don’t believe that anyone was being particularly friendly or respectful, except for one wise woman who must have noticed the tension brewing during a soccer game for 9 year olds. She rightly said “we are all in this together.”
This little sound bite, so eloquently said, resonated in my soul. God works in mysterious ways, even at soccer games! At that instant I was reminded to put myself in other person’s shoes: the families on the sidelines, the players, the coach and the referee.
How do we consistently put ourselves in another person’s shoes if we don’t even see or hear what is happening in the lives of our brothers and sisters? Well, we need to raise our level of awareness to the needs of others which then becomes a catalyst for action. As Catholics, we have several methods at our disposal that can help with awareness: the Eucharist, prayer, our Church homilies, even a hike in the outdoors. Basically anything that removes the noise and clutter of our lives so we can focus more peacefully on Christ’s message of a loving God with all our heart and soul and think of our neighbor as ourselves.
Action can take many different forms in our daily life. However, here at the Lazarus House, action takes form in the works of mercy. As Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. states in his book What to Do When Jesus Is Hungry, “The works of mercy are important because they connect the love of neighbor with the love of God.” The corporeal works of mercy focus on our bodily needs. Some of the most basic bodily needs are in the form of hygiene. However, hygiene items cannot be purchased with food stamps. So the Lazarus House started a Hygiene Bank.
The second Saturday of every month we hand out basics necessities like deodorant, laundry detergent, men & women’s razors, shampoo, shaving gel, soap, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, toothpaste and toothbrushes. In May, 289 individuals were served through our Hygiene Bank. The individuals in need come to us by word of mouth, stand in line at least an hour before we are there to open our door, discuss with a Catholic Worker what their specific needs are and we try to fulfill those needs with the basic items we have stocked on our shelves.
While we keep track of the number of people we serve, we don’t take names or social security numbers. We want to maintain the dignity of everyone who walks through our doors. Our hope is that individuals can experience God through our hospitality and spiritual works of mercy. We do this by meeting and greeting our neighbor wherever they are at in their journey and for whatever reason they have knocked on the door of the Lazarus House.
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
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