Beginning this weekend, we will feature reflections on each of the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy, so beautifully depicted in the newly-installed Mercy Garden. We can consider this part of St. Mary Parish summer catechesis. My thanks to the Diocese of Oakland, the major source of the reflections that will appear herein.
It is a sight which once seen we can never forget: on the streets of the most affluent nation in the world, a poor person pawing through the garbage can looking for food. It is unsettling to realize that people go to bed hungry in the United States. The first two corporal works of mercy address our most fundamental human needs: food and drink. One very immediate way to perform this work of mercy is to help organizations in our community that feed the poor. Locally, we have the presence of People to People and the Wooster Hope Center as major food pantries. We can support them financially and, going one step of contact further, volunteer some time.
We worship Christ, the Bread of Life, in the Eucharist; but this worship will be hollow if we do not also reverence and serve him in the poor. In the ancient Epistle of Barnabas we are urged: Share with your neighbor whatever you have, and do not say of anything, this is mine. If you both share an imperishable treasure, how much more must you share what is perishable (Barnabas 19).
This work of mercy can also be carried out in other circumstances. People who are experiencing stress or grief may not have the energy to cook. Bringing meals to a neighbor at a difficult time, such as after a stay in the hospital or at the death of a loved one, is a small but effective act of charity. The elderly shut-in or resident in a home would appreciate an occasional special treat or luncheon out. A good meal especially when accompanied by a warm heart and a generous ear nourishes the spirit as well as the body.
We have entered the months of summer. Temperatures outside will generally be on the very warm side. Gratefully, we are assured that the air in church will be kept comfortably cool. Please remember modesty and neatness in your attire at church. Standards in general society tend to be significantly lower than what the dignity of the Mass and the promotion of virtue in our Faith challenge us to maintain. This is particularly true for anyone serving in a specific liturgical ministry at Mass. Thank you.
P.S. Look for the guidelines on practical protocol for receiving Holy Communion in next week’s issue.