Works of Mercy
This season of Lent provides us with an opportunity to contemplate God’s mercy, most perfectly revealed and made present to us in Jesus Christ.
This season of Lent provides us with an opportunity to contemplate God’s mercy, most perfectly revealed and made present to us in Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Christ reveals God’s great love for humanity and restores man’s identity as a child of God.
We respond to this great outpouring of love, not only by frequent reception of the sacraments (especially confession), but also by offering God’s mercy to others through the Works of Mercy.
The Works of Mercy–both Corporal and Spiritual–go beyond mere service activities, they offer opportunities to share in the mission of Jesus Christ and to serve Him in those who suffer:
“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…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:34-36, 40
Take some time during these remaining weeks of Lent to respond to God’s mercy in one or more of these unique ways:
Feed the Hungry
Serve a meal at a Homeless Shelter
Contact your local homeless shelter and see if they need volunteers to cook or serve a meal for their residents. While you're there, don’t forget to take some time to get to know the people you are serving.
Treat someone to lunch
Is there a friend you haven’t caught up with in a while or someone at your parish who could use a new friend? Invite them to lunch, your treat! Sharing a meal provides a moment of connection with another person and an opportunity to encounter God.
Organize or participate in a Meal Train
Know someone that recently had a baby or is recovering from illness/surgery? Bring a meal to them or organize a group of friends to help keep their fridge stocked during this season.
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Carry extra water bottles
Keep water bottles in your car or in your bag to offer a homeless person your may encounter.
Donate baby formula to local pregnancy center
Help a new mother (and their sweet baby) by donating formula to a nearby pregnancy center. Or if you are a breastfeeding mama, consider donating some breast milk to another mom who needs to supplement or a family with a recently adopted infant.
Help bring clean water to a poor country
Water is critical for maintaining life; it’s needed of course for drinking, but also for helping livestock and crops thrive. However, many people around the world lack a clean and readily available water supply. Donate to one of the many organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, working to improve the water supply in poorer countries.
Shelter the Homeless
Volunteer cleaning/maintenance services to a homeless shelter
Help create a beautiful and safe place for those experiencing homelessness by volunteering your time to clean or maintain a shelter.
Support an foster family/adoption fund
Approximately 400,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States and are in need of a stable place to live. If you personally know a foster family, you can support them in caring for the child(ren) entrusted to them, or you might also consider becoming a foster parent yourself.
If you have friends looking to adopt a child, you can help them bring this child home. Offer to host a fundraiser for them, make a donation, and/or share their efforts with your friends and family.
Millions of men, women, and children have fled their homes in recent years because of war and violence. Donate money, supplies, or even your time to support these individuals and families seeking out a new home.
Clothe the Naked
Donate your new/gently used clothing
Do you have any clothes (in good condition, of course) that you no longer want or need? Donate them to a local thrift store that supports the poor. You can also donate your clothes to another organization that can get your clothes right into the hands of those who need them most. If you have a lot of business attire, a local homeless or women’s shelter could give them to people interviewing for jobs. If you have maternity or baby clothes, a crisis pregnancy center can help give them to new mothers.
Host a clothing drive
Organize a clothing drive at your parish, office, or within your community and collect clothes for those in need. Research local organizations that can benefit from these donations.
Make clothing for those in need
Put those sewing/knitting skills to good use by making articles of clothing, blankets, hats, scarves for others. Donate handmade baby blankets and hats to a local pregnancy shelter or winter weather wear to a nearby homeless shelter.
Visit the Sick
Volunteer at a Nursing Home or Hospital
Do you have any special talents you could share with others? Maybe you are musically inclined or love calling Bingo games? See if the hospital or nursing home needs volunteers to bring a little cheer to their patients.
Send flowers or cards
If you know someone who has been struggling with illness, send them a little pick-me-up of flowers or a handwritten card. You can deliver them in person or, if you live far away, can have them sent directly to their home.
Hospitals rely on donations of blood to help patients survive surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Giving blood doesn’t take much time or effort and is a truly life-changing way to reach out to someone fighting illness or injury.
Visit the Imprisoned
Volunteer at a Prison
Prisons, with the help of volunteers, often offer educational and spiritual support to incarcerated people. If you have a skill you can teach, like a trade/vocational skill, resume writing, financial smarts, or if you are interested in leading a Bible Study or retreat, reach out to the closest prison to see how you can get involved.
Write to a prisoner
Many incarcerated people feel immense loneliness during their time in prison. Letter-writing is a safe and easy way to alleviate some of their suffering and to allow them continued communication to the outside world that many will one day rejoin.
Bury the Dead
Attend a wake/funeral of someone you knew
If a family member, friend, or even another member of your parish community passes away during this season, take the time to attend the wake or funeral to remember their life and to pray for their soul.
Help with funeral expenses
Donate to an organization that helps financially with Catholic burial expenses for families unable to afford it. Pray for the soul of the person who will be buried thanks to your financial donation.
Visit the grave of a loved one
Bring flowers or take the time to clean up the area where a loved one is buried.