faustina.jpgWe had a beautiful, solemn liturgy for Divine Mercy Sunday at our cathedral today. I’m grateful. In many places this devotion is ignored.

Some years ago, in my travels, a young monk gave me a sliver of a bone of Sister Faustina before she was canonized by Pope John Paul II. In so many ways I can look back and find the work of mercy in my own life since that fragment of her relic has been on the shelf over my computer.

And yet, how many of us practice the works of mercy that are asked of every Catholic? Few of us actually know the list!

Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry
  • To give drink to the thirsty
  • To clothe the naked
  • To shelter the homeless
  • To visit the sick
  • To ransom the captive
  • To bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy :

  • To instruct the ignorant
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish sinners
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Some of these are readily observed, others rarely.

It seems to me that political correctness makes us hesitant to “instruct the ignorant” in matters of faith and morals.

Ditto for “admonish the sinners”! If you mention a sin to some people they accuse you of a hate crime. Yet, scripture is clear that we have an obligation to point out ( in love!) major sinful situations. In the most urgent sense, the spiritual works of mercy are more important. They go to the heart of a person’s eternal well being.

Can it be that because we do not instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinners, that we are guilty of permitting our culture to become so toxic to the Christian family? And by unremitting exposure to that toxicity, new souls are floundering every day? How accountable are we for the present culture crisis?

I’m curious about your thoughts on this most merciful work.


5 Responses

  1. I tell my CCD students that you needn’t WANT to admonish sinners. You just HAVE to.

    I have enough to answer for at my particular judgment without piling on more omissions. Not that I’m as studious about this as I ought be.



  2. Joe,
    those are fortunate CCD students!

    There is Mt. 18:15, or St. Augustine:

    “Medicinal rebuke must be applied to all who sin, lest they should either themselves perish, or be the ruin of others… Let no one, therefore, say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, or that his return and perseverance must only be asked from the Lord for him.”

  3. The analogy I use is that of roughly knocking someone over to keep ’em from getting hit by a truck. It’s not fun for either party, it’s often difficult to do, and the other guy may not like you for whacking him in the ribs.

    But it’s something you have to do.


  4. Beautiful post! Many of the problems we have today are because either people in authority did not offer admonishment or instruction when it was necessary, or offered it clumsily. Of course, we must keep in mind before offering advice or admonishment that it is important to know all the facts involved in the particular case. Also, it is necessary to discern who is the most authorized person to deliver the admonishment. Sometimes, as I have seen so often, an impulsive or inordinately harsh admonishment can do more harm than good. It is all a matter for prayer in which wisdom is required.

  5. I can’t believe I can’t find any info for a school project and this doesn’t help at all! in fact it’s the worst web site info ever I COULDN’T FIND ANY THING AND NOW I’M PISSED!

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