Every year at the start of Lent, I consider what I am going to “give up.” Like many Catholics, I typically forego something as a form of fasting and as a means of growing closer to God.
In his recent message, Pope Francis has called us to perform works of mercy during Lent – particularly in this Year of Mercy. And so, while I am still “giving up” ice cream as my own personal form of fasting, I am also seeking to deepen my faith through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Lucklily, I am surrounded by faithful examples of how to carry out the Works of Mercy:
- 3 Sisters of the Holy Redeemer and a Postulant with the Sisters carried out the Works of Mercy through their ministry with asylum seekers at the Sisters’ Motherhouse in Germany. These women put aside all other obligations to answer the call to attend to the needs of our guests at the Motherhouse.
- Ashley often visits the sick and comforts those afflicted with a cancer diagnosis in her ministry with the Women’s Health Center. She tends to their physical needs – working to ensure patients are comfortable, as well as their emotional and spiritual needs.Ashley also showed me selflessness this week when she dropped everything to help watch my son for a few hours so that I could visit a family member in the hospital.
- At last week’s meeting for Philadelphia-area volunteer program directors, I was inspired by the selflessness of these program directors who counsel and comfort their volunteers and often join their volunteers in serving the guests/clients/patients in their ministries. Even while on vacation, these program directors make themselves available to answer the needs of their volunteers and offer support in whatever way they can.
- In just a few weeks we will be joined by students from Michigan State University who are using their spring break to perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for the individuals at our service sites.
As Pope Francis states, “These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit…” I am grateful to these women and men who have shown me the beauty of the Works of Mercy, and pray that you can also be inspired by their selfless love.