Seven spiritual works of mercy

Video 7 spiritual works of mercy

As you may recall, in my last column I told you that I would be writing about the 7 spiritual works of mercy just as I wrote about the 7 physical works of mercy. But I expressed a caveat. Doing the 7 physical works of mercy is much easier than doing the 7 spiritual works of mercy. Why you might ask? For doing the spiritual works of mercy requires much more humility, much disciplined charity, and the ability to speak so as not to appear “better than you” or to nag. So here…

Monsignor Keith DeRouen Ponder these things
  1. To instruct the ignorant. This work of mercy means that we are all called to share and teach the faith that has been passed down to us. This of course means that we need to know our faith and what our church really teaches. And the best way to instruct and teach is by example.
  2. To advise doubters. Each of us has doubts and questions about our faith. Even Mother Teresa had dark nights of soul in which she felt doubt and despair. This work of mercy reminds us of the importance of walking closely with those going through transitions, losses or great trials and sustaining them in prayer and fellowship.
  3. To the sinner admonish. This is very difficult to do, especially when you are being honest about your own life. “People in glass houses should not throw stones” or the remarkable words of Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge?” But nonetheless, this third work of mercy calls us to speak to others about any sinful behavior that may exist. Here love and charity must be used with carefully chosen words so as not to come across as preachy, nagging, or “holier than you.” It’s not easy.
  4. To bear wrong patiently. Here our pride is the wrongdoer and revenge is the temptation. Jesus’ words, “Turn the other cheek,” ring out, but it’s not easy. And I think it’s sometimes harder to endure injustice and be patient with hardship when someone is harming our children or grandchildren.
  5. To forgive insults readily. This work of mercy is inseparable from patient endurance of wrongdoing. Forgiveness takes time, and even though you don’t feel completely at peace with the other person, the desire to forgive is the beginning of the path to full forgiveness. What helps me to forgive others is the promise of the Lord Jesus: “As often as you forgive others, Keith, as often as I will forgive you.”
  6. To comfort the afflicted. There are times when we see someone going through a bad time and we can’t take it away from him or her. Our words are inadequate and our actions are meaningless. All we can do is walk with him or her silently in love and prayer. I will never forget what my classmate in seminary did for me one day. Bill knew I was so sad and scared when Mom was dying and one day in chapel he patted my shoulder and said, “I think maybe you’re having a hard time praying right now. I pray especially for you now.”
  7. To pray for the living and the dead. The most important part of any work of mercy, be it spiritual or physical, is clearly prayer. Prayer, which seeks to unite us to God, transforms the physical act of feeding the poor into a spiritual act of doing good to others and giving glory to God. As one author says: “Our private intercession for our neighbors and the dead earns us little fame or admiration from others, but in the end, when we stand before God, we will be able to give an account of our prayerful mercies to others , and so Jesus will show us mercy again.”

This concludes the spiritual list, and together with the physical works of mercy we can do our part in making the world at large a holier place place to make as we ourselves grow in holiness. Have a safe and happy carnival! See you this Sunday and Ash Wednesday in church!

Msgr. Keith DeRouen is Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church and Chancellor of Opelousas Catholic School.


Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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