Third Week of Lent

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

In addition to their body, every human person has a spirit or soul with needs of its own. Many people have been wounded in spiritual warfare and need help to heal. Christians respond to spiritual poverty and injuries with the seven spiritual works of mercy:

  1. Counseling the doubtful: Do you know anyone who is uncertain about their beliefs or who doesn't know what decision to make? What reassurance and advice can you give them?
  2. Instructing the ignorant: Do you know anyone who hasn't heard the Gospel or has never been told how to live as a Christian? How can you share the truth with them?
  3. Admonishing the sinner: Who in your life has sinned in a noticeable way? How can you humbly point out their sin and help them repent?
  4. Comforting the sorrowful: Do you know anyone who is grieving, discouraged, or depressed? What can you do to listen to and support them?
  5. Forgiving injuries: Who has hurt you or someone you love? How can you show them that you forgive them and bear them no ill will?
  6. Bearing wrongs patiently: Who causes you to feel angry, frustrated, and impatient? How can you show them compassion and mercy?
  7. Praying for the living and the dead: Who needs your prayers? How can you incorporate intercession for the dead into your regular prayer routine?
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.