We are now in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. While the year is extraordinary, mercy should not be. Perhaps in this world of sin and failed intentions mercy is not nearly as common as it should be. Nonetheless, mercy ought to be a regular and usual part of our Christian life. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1829, mercy – along with joy and peace – is a fruit of charity. This is not charity in the sense of donations to the poor, but charity as love. Charity is the type of love that Christians are called to have, and is the gift of God. Mercy, joy and peace are the hallmarks, the tell-tale signs, the evidence that shows that the love of God is in our hearts. Where there is no mercy, nor joy, nor peace, then the love of God is not there.
Because Church scholars loved making lists in the past, and because they were particularly devoted to the number seven, there are traditional lists of the seven corporal (i.e. bodily) and seven spiritual works of mercy. The lists are:
Corporal Works of Mercy: Spiritual Works of Mercy:
To feed the hungry To instruct the ignorant
To give drink to the thirsty To counsel the doubtful
To clothe the naked To admonish sinners
To harbour the harbourless To bear wrongs patiently
To visit the sick To forgive offences willingly
To ransom the captive To comfort the afflicted
Over the next several weeks let us look at these works of Mercy, and see how we can better practice them in our daily lives both as individuals and as a Catholic parish.
Starting with the Corporal Works first, which are easier to get a handle on, we have at the top of the list “to feed the hungry.” Well, that is something we do here in several ways. We feed the hungry through our St. Vincent de Paul chapter. They have a food pantry and bring food to families in need in our area. They back up their merciful actions with an active spirituality, which is so important. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is always ready to welcome new members and also donations of food and of money. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact StAustinSVDP@gmail.com or call parishioner Mike Murphy at 512-923-3538.
Another way we at St. Austin’s help feed the hungry is by our participation in the MICAH 6 Food Pantry. The University area Christian Churches work together to support an active food pantry. Housed in the basement of the University Presbyterian Church, it is open twice a week and serves hundreds of needy families each week. St. Austin supports the pantry with our annual dues to Micah 6, occasional food drives, and parishioner volunteers. The pantry needs workers on early Thursday morning to help unload a huge truck full of food from the Capital Area Food Bank, and volunteers on Tuesdays and Saturdays when the Micah 6 Pantry distributes food. If you are interested in helping please contact Pat Macy at pmacy@staustin for more information. You can also check out their website at http://www.micah6austin.org/pantry.
Here are two concrete and profitable ways to feed the hungry. Pope Francis is calling on you in this Year of Mercy to get involved.