The Christian Spiritual Works of Mercy

The Christian Spiritual Works of Mercy

Throughout this article we will tell you in detail the meaning of the spiritual works of mercy  according to Christianity and what is the importance of them within this religion.

Spiritual Works of Mercy explained

Spiritual works of mercy are those acts that are performed to help others, honestly and selflessly. Unlike the corporal works of mercy, the spiritual ones aim to nourish the spirit of those who need it.

Through these works we help those who need it intellectually and emotionally, not physically, as happens in the corporal works of mercy. However,  what are the spiritual works of mercy? Throughout this article we will explain each of the seven.

What are the spiritual works of mercy?

As we mentioned earlier, these are seven spiritual works of mercy within Christianity. First of all, there is teaching the one who does not know. It consists of helping the ignorant in any matter, even in religious matters. For example, teaching someone who cannot read is a spiritual work of mercy. The teachings can be carried out through writing or words, by any means of communication.

It should be emphasized that this type of work is not carried out for our own interests, but for the simple fact of helping others. Those who teach justice to the rest of the people will shine like the stars in perpetual eternity (Dan. 12, 3b)

Second, we find the merciful work of giving good advice to those who need it. One of the most frequently mentioned gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of counsel. That is why whoever wants to give good advice must strictly be in tune with God. We should not express personal opinions, because the person does not need to listen to what we believe is best for him or her.

Instead, we must offer a guide to those who need it, so that they find their way in the light towards God and not towards evil. That is why it is important that we ourselves are connected with God, only then will we know how to guide others.

The next spiritual work of mercy is to correct the one who is wrong. This does not only refer to correcting someone who makes a mistake regarding some action or word. It is fundamentally about correcting the sinner. The correction among our brothers must be corrected.

Therefore, if our neighbor sins, we should gently try to talk to him to prevent him from continuing on the path of evil. We must blame him. If he listens to us, we have gained a brother. It is important to keep in mind that you do not have to be harsh in the correction.

On the contrary, we should treat our neighbor with gentleness and humility. On many occasions it can be difficult to do it, because it depends on what he has done, we can also find ourselves disappointed. However, in those moments, it can help us to remember what the apostle James said: “he who straightens a sinner from his evil way, he will also save his soul from death and obtain forgiveness of many sins” (St. 5 , twenty)

Forgiving injuries is the fourth of the spiritual works of mercy. This refers to forgiving people who have offended or hurt us, without having thoughts of revenge and without holding a grudge against anyone, because that will only make us sick and damage our soul.

As we say in the Our Father, “Forgive us our offenses, as we also forgive those who offend us.” If we ourselves forgive the offenses of men, Christ will also forgive us and give us a place at his side. On the other hand, if we do not forgive the offenses that have been done to us throughout our lives, the Lord will not forgive us either, because we are full of rancor and desire for revenge. His kingdom should be full of peace, calm and love.

This implies treating the person who has offended us kindly, overcoming resentment and other feelings related to revenge. For example, Joseph forgave his brothers for trying to kill him and then sell him. He told them: do not be sad for having sold me here; for to preserve lives, God sent me ahead of you” (Gen. 45, 5)

Additionally, the greatest example of forgiveness in the New Testament is that of Christ on the Cross, who forgave all the men who tortured and crucified him so much, causing him a slow and painful death. This teaches us that forgiveness can save our souls. We must forgive everything and always. As Christ said to his father: “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.

Many times the one who offends us is blinded by hatred or other emotions, without thinking about the actions they carry out and who they will affect. We must help that person to find his way and forget the negative feelings that torment him.

Comfort the sad The fifth spiritual work of mercy is to help those who are emotionally upset or in difficulty. On some occasions, it can be complemented with other merciful works such as giving good advice, which helps the sad person to overcome her pain and sadness, which constantly torments her.

Accompanying our brothers in all times, but even more so in the most difficult, shows our unconditional and selfless love towards them. In the same way, with this work we put into practice the behavior of Jesus, who felt sorry for the pain of others. 

One of the best examples of this comes from the Gospel of Luke. It consists of the resurrection of the son of the widow of Naím. As they approached the city gate, a dead man was taken out to be buried, the only son of a woman who was a widow, who was accompanied by a large number of people from the city. 

The Lord, seeing her, had compassion for her pain. He told her not to cry and, as she approached, he touched the coffin. Those carrying him stopped, and he said, “Young man, get up.” The dead man got up and began to speak, while the Lord handed him over to his mother.

The sixth spiritual work of mercy is to patiently suffer the defects of others, understanding that no one is perfect and we must accept ourselves as we are, because we ourselves also have defects that perhaps others should equally suffer with patience. Therefore, patience in the face of other people’s defects is not only a virtue but also a work of mercy.

We must always remember that we all have flaws, and that does not make us less deserving of love and patience. However, when those other people’s defects do us more harm than good and do not cause us any benefit for our soul, we should warn others about it or simply walk away for our own good, because we should not destroy our soul for others.

The seventh and final spiritual work of mercy is to pray for the living and the dead. Saint Paul recommends that we extend our supplications and prayers to everyone, without exception. Also by rulers and people of responsibility, leaving rancor and resentment aside, since that does us no good. In turn, Saint Paul’s desire is that everyone be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

On the other hand, praying for the deceased will allow souls in purgatory to be released. Their souls depend on our prayers, for when we pray, at least fifteen souls are freed from their sins and can go to heaven with our Lord.

Pope Francis asks all Christians and other people of good will to pray, especially for persecuted Christians. We must grant this wish of the Pope. In this way, our brothers in faith will feel the consolation of our prayer for them to alleviate their pain and torment.

Spiritual and corporal works of mercy

As we mentioned earlier, there are both spiritual and corporeal works. In this section of the article, we will briefly mention the list of corporal works of mercy.

It is important to emphasize that, unlike spiritual works, which seek to relieve the soul and spirit, corporal works seek to alleviate physical needs such as hunger, thirst, illness, among others. They are the following:

  • Give food to those who are hungry.
  • Feed the thirsty.
  • Dress someone who lacks clothes or has clothes in poor condition.
  • Give shelter to the foreigner or foreigner.
  • Visit and care for the sick.
  • Visit those who are incarcerated.
  • And finally, bury the deceased.

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