Third Week of Lent

What Is Mercy?

Mercy puts us in right relationship with other people, especially those in need. It is our way of promoting God's justice in the world, ensuring that everyone has what he or she ought to have and is at peace with others. It is our weapon against worldliness, i.e. becoming enslaved to the things of this world. Mercy is also our means of coming to the aid of our brothers and sisters in the spiritual fight.

Mercy means showing love to other people by helping them to meet their bodily and spiritual needs. There are as many different works of mercy as there are human needs. Here are some options for Lenten works of mercy:

  • Begin volunteering with a ministry at your parish, or increase your commitment.
  • Support your parish financially according to your means.
  • Donate to your diocese, including to its annual appeal.
  • Volunteer with or donate to a local charitable organization.
  • Get involved with the charitable work of Knights of Columbus.
  • Donate to CRS Rice Bowl to help feed the hungry.
  • Participate in 40 Days for Life, a campaign of prayer and fasting for the protection of the unborn.
  • Call or write to a person who is home-based, at the hospital, or in an assisted living facility. If possible, make a visit.
  • Share the Gospel with your family, friends, and other people you know.
  • Support a missionary or a missionary organization through prayer and financial aid.
  • Offer your support to someone going through a difficult time. Pray with and for them.
  • Forgive and reconcile with someone who has wronged you.
  • Choose someone (living or dead) or a group to pray for daily.

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.