The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
I heard a story recently about an old lady who told her priest that at her funeral Mass she didn’t want him to say she was a good person or was going straight to Heaven. Why?
Her wishes go against conventional thinking. Most, at their funeral would want everyone to go on about how good they were, how kind, how charitable, the great legacy they leave behind. How they are assuredly going straight to Heaven.
But her thinking was this: she knew when she died she would be judged; either going to hell, Purgatory or Heaven. She knew she might go to Purgatory. And she knew, that while in Purgatory, she needed all the prayers she could get. She didn’t want anyone thinking that she was going straight to Heaven. If they thought this they wouldn’t pray for her. She wanted everyone to pray for her soul to be cleansed so she could get to Heaven.
In this age, many believe that as soon as someone dies they go straight to Heaven. But this is a modern idea. We will all be judged. We need all the prayers we can get.
Praying for those in Purgatory is one of the most important prayers, and is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy – the great acts that we must do as Christians to be Christian.
Here they are:
Spiritual works of mercy
- To instruct the ignorant.
- To counsel the doubtful.
- To admonish the sinners.
- To bear patiently those who wrong us.
- To forgive offenses.
- To comfort the afflicted.
- To pray for the living and the dead.
Corporal Works of Mercy
- Feed the hungry.
- Give drink to the thirsty.
- Clothe the naked.
- Visit the imprisoned.
- Shelter the homeless.
- Visit the sick.
- Bury the dead.
The Corporal Works of Mercy come straight from Jesus, when He says in Matthew 25:35-46:
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”