Spiritual and corporal works of mercy – Vincentian approach

by | Mar 8, 2015 | Formation

Pope Francis frequently emphasizes mercy. Lent can be a time of renewed efforts in practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Even if you can not set a world record in naming these 14 works of mercy visitors to this site can learn from John Prager’s Vincentian Perspectives.  To Serve the Poor Spiritually and Corporally”.

“There are many ways of expressing the Vincentian charism. One way to define it is accompanying the poor in the construction of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is the center of Jesus’ life and mission. It is the proclamation, by word and work, of God’s victory over every form of evil. Jesus responds to people’s experience of evil, the bad news, with the Good News that evil is being conquered. Paul VI put it like this:

 As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him (EN 9).
The Church exists to evangelize (EN 14). It is within the context of that ecclesial mission that the Vincentian vocation to serve the poor corporally and spiritually has to be understood. St. Vincent never tired of saying that we participate in the mission of Christ. We preach the Good News by word and work.
 For Vincentians, charity and evangelization are inseparable. Our corporal and spiritual service is charity. We evangelize, make the Good News effective, through charity. In this talk I want to offer a few ideas about the spiritual and practical dimensions of charity. In reality these two dimensions cannot be neatly separated. For the sake clarity I have done so here.”
For visually inclined click on this graphic and spent some time trying to re-imagine the scenes as they might unfold today.

Werken_van_Barmhartigheid,_Meester_van_Alkmaar_(1504)

The Works of Mercy, by the Master of Alkmaar made for the Church of Saint Lawrence in Alkmaar, Netherlands. The wooden panels show the works of mercy in this order: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead, shelter the traveler, comfort the sick, and free the imprisoned. Circa 1504.

Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


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