Corporal Works of Mercy
By Stacy LaMorte
You may not realize it, but, as a loving parent, you are integrating the Corporal Works of Mercy into your daily life.
Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked (even when they don’t want to keep their clothes on!) and caring for the sick are all Works of Mercy.
As we scrub a toilet, do the third load of laundry or cook dinner, it may not feel that we are doing the work of God, but if you do these things with that mindset of God’s joy, you may actually delight in doing these daily tasks! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Sheltering the homeless and visiting the imprisoned are things that are a little harder to practice on a daily basis. As parents, though, it is our duty to instruct our children not so much in our words as in our actions. Having your children purge their toys and clothes that they no longer use and play with is one great way to have them understand how to clothe the naked and shelter the homeless.
While I understand it is much easier to get these things done while your children are not around (so they don’t see what you are getting rid of), it is not teaching them the gift of giving of themselves.
I use a laundry basket labeled “Donate” and a garbage bag for things that no longer have all the pieces, are broken, etc. It is very rewarding for the kids to see how their excess could be another child’s favorite things!
The work of mercy that I have only recently realized the importance of is visiting the imprisoned. While we wouldn’t necessarily desire to expose our children to an actual visit to a prison, think about when you visit your grandparents or a friend who can no longer drive or leave the house for health reasons. This is similar to visiting the imprisoned. Bringing your children to a home for the elderly with homemade cards or a bowl of fruit to share is a great way to teach children the gift of lifting someone else’s spirits.
This will almost certainly bring them great joy as well and help them to learn to “Rejoice always!”