Third Week of Lent

The Corporal Works of Mercy

The body is an essential part of every human person, and everybody's body has needs. The Christian response to corporal poverty is the seven corporal works of mercy:

  1. Feeding the hungry: Can you donate food to a feeding ministry or volunteer at a soup kitchen? Closer to home, can you turn making meals for your family into an act of charity?
  2. Giving drink to the thirsty: Can you contribute to charities that give water to those who need it? Can you give bottles of water to people in need?
  3. Sheltering the homeless: Can you volunteer at a homeless shelter in your area? Can you donate to programs that help house those in need?
  4. Visiting the sick: Can you contribute to Catholic hospitals and medical missions? Can you visit and care for sick relatives, friends, and members of your parish?
  5. Visiting the prisoners: Can you get involved with your diocesan prison ministry? Can you donate to a prison education program?
  6. Burying the dead: Can you attend funerals held at your local parish? Can you commit to providing a decent burial for your family members who die?
  7. Giving alms to the poor: Can you give your time, talents, and treasure to local poverty alleviation ministries? Can you give to those you see around you who have needs?

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.