Tag Archives: Works of Mercy

Easy Essay

Winchester CVM

Peter Maurin  –  Works of Mercy

In the first centuries of Christianity

pagans said about Christians:

“See how they love each other.”

The love for God and neighbour

was the characteristic

of the first Christians.

This love was expressed

through the daily practice

of the Works of Mercy.

To feed the hungry,

to clothe the naked,

to shelter the homeless,

to instruct the ignorant

at a personal sacrifice

was considered

by the first Christians

as the right thing to do.

Surplus goods were considered

to be superfluous,

and therefore to be used

to help the needy members

of the Mystical Body.

Winchester CVM

Cardinal Bacci on Charitable Works

CVM Oxford 1

From The CVM

1. Christianity is the religion of love. This is not to say that charity is sufficient without justice, for there can be no real charity without justice. But justice cannot always bring us very far. There are many complex and tragic problems which justice alone is powerless to solve. Only Christian love can comfort the human heart and heal some of the deeper wounds of poor suffering humanity. There is a sense in which it is true to say that Christianity is charity. This is what Jesus meant when He said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) Anyone who is without charity is not really a Christian. Egoism is the absolute negation of Christianity. The egoist is deaf to human sorrows and loves only himself. A Christian should love God above all things and his neighbour as himself.

2. When Jesus was asked what was the first commandment, He replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than this.” (Mark 12:30-31) As St. Augustine says, the love of God and the love of our neighbour are two branches of the same tree, the tree of charity. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother,” St. John warns us, “he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) We must prove our love for God by showing charity towards our neighbour. All men are our brothers in Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed us by His precious blood. Our Lord has said that He will regard as done for Himself anything which we do for the least of our brethren. (Mt. 25:40) Like the Saints, we should see Jesus Himself living in the poor and suffering. The Saints gave Him everything they had, not only their possessions, but also their toil and love. Think how much those missionaries do who leave everything in order to go to foreign lands and win souls for Christ. Think of the charitable work of the sisters and nurses in the hospitals, asylums and orphanages. What are we doing ?

3. As well as the corporal works, there are the spiritual works of mercy. Everyone is not obliged to undertake the former; they would be impossible, for instance, for the destitute. But everyone is obliged to undertake the latter. Sometimes a kind word is more valuable than money. There are many ways in which we can carry out the spiritual works of mercy. There is the well-timed and understanding advice we can give to others; the visit to a sick man who is alone in his sufferings; the friendly and encouraging visit to an unfortunate prisoner; the tactful and patient instruction we can give to those who have gone astray through ignorance rather than through malice; and at times the rebuke we can administer to a hardened sinner in such a way as to make it quite clear that our only motive is to win him back to the real happiness which only goodness can give. Remember, however, that the practice of the spiritual works of mercy does not excuse us from the exercise of material works of charity whenever that is possible for us. (Cf. James 2:16)

Photographs - CVM Oxford

Photographs – CVM Oxford

Mercy: As ‘Old’ as the Cross

Mercy as old as the Cross

Stephen Hand writes that:

For the Church Fathers there was not the slightest divergence between Mercy and Catholic doctrine. Mercy was the fruit of unchangeable doctrine for them.

Hence Basil, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, says [Hom. super Luc. xii, 18]:

“If you acknowledge them,” viz. your temporal goods, “as coming from God, is He unjust because He apportions them unequally? Why are you rich while another is poor, unless it be that you may have the merit of a good stewardship, and he the reward of patience? It is the hungry man’s bread that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you have stored away, the shoe of the barefoot that you have left to rot, the money of the needy that you have buried underground: and so you injure as many as you might help.”

“Ambrose expresses himself in the same way. It is written 1 John 3:17: “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall put up his bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?” (ibid.)

“You never give to the poor what is yours; you merely return to them what belongs to them. For what you have appropriated was given for the common use of everybody. The land was given for everybody, not just the rich.” — St. Ambrose, 4th century bishop of Milan

“The bread that is in your box belongs to the hungry; the coat in your closet belongs to the naked; the shoes you do not wear belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute.” St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, c. A.D. 370

“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to the one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” — St Gregory Naziansen, Bishop of Constantinople, late fourth century

“Nothing is your own. You are a servant and what is yours belongs to the Lord. For a servant has no property that is truly his own; naked you were brought into this life.” —Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, from “The Unjust Steward,” c. A.D. 400

The New and Unexpected Breed of Homeless

The Catholic Volunteer Movement write that:

“As we celebrate the Septuagesima Sunday our thoughts inevitably turn to the penitential season. What better time therefore to remind ourselves of the Works of Mercy –

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

We should think and pray hard about which of these we can do, most especially during Lent”.

Juventutem Hexham and Newcastle in Durham are regularly out on the streets of Middlesbrough serving the homeless, and St Joseph’s Catholic Helpers for the Poor serve the homeless in Winchester. They write in their latest emailed appeal:

“If most able body parishioners attended just one soup run this year, I would have a surplus of helping hands. Remember many hands make light work and every pair of hands certainly makes my load lighter and continues our mission of bringing Christ to our guests”.

What can you do to bring Christ to our neighbour??

CVM Soup Kitchen Fr. Webber