Thank you, guys, for sticking around despite my inconsistent blogging. 🙂 How’ve you been? I’ve missed this.
Anyways, I’m so behind on my posting schedule for the Works of Mercy series. I was wondering how I’d even catch up but then I realized that a number of them have the same themes. 😀 (No, it’s not cheating.)
St. Paul is one of my favorite saints. His conversion story reminds me of God’s infinite mercy. How else could one man go from being a terrorist (think Isis-type of religious persecution of Christians) to being one of Christianity’s biggest proponents? Seriously.
But in all the drama of Paul’s life there’s a character who’s sometimes forgotten. Ananias of Damascus. The believer through whom Paul’s sight was restored. The one who gave him his first instruction and then baptized him.
This month, I’m focusing on the first 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy.
- To counsel the doubtful
- Teach the ignorant
- Admonish sinners
All of us know dozens of “ignorant” people we would just love to “instruct” i.e. Tell how to see and do things our way. Lol. No, that’s not what this is about. Ignorant in this case doesn’t mean stupid or foolish. It means someone who doesn’t know. The way I don’t know how to speak French 😀. Teaching the Ignorant is about helping people understand and learn.
The thing about the Spiritual Works is that they are kind acts by which we help our neighbours/friends/family with their everyday spiritual and emotional needs.
Obviously, the most important thing to learn is the way to salvation. But being lay people, we run the risk of unwittingly propagating error, if we’re not careful.
To help, we must first “have”. That seems obvious when we consider the physical works of mercy. To feed someone, we need to have food. And if we apply that to “counseling the doubtful”, for instance, it’s only logical that we have faith ourselves first.
That’s why the most important first step is to get a spiritual director; someone who you sufficiently trust to mentor you on matters of the faith. Your very own Ananias.
I find that I can deal with “teaching” and “counseling”. God has been patient with me; I’ve learned so much from my life experiences and conversations with others. And I’m always willing to share what I’ve learned when I think it’ll help.
I struggle when I think of “admonishing”. Because I know myself. I look at myself in the mirror and Psalm 51:3 flashes before my eyes. I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. I don’t think I’m in any way qualified to admonish people for sins, not when mine may be “worse”. Not when I consider that if I had those particular temptations, I might also succumb.
But we’re all struggling, right? And we encourage each other. In the end, I think I’d want to be corrected (lovingly 😀) when I do the wrong thing.
So here are a few ideas:
- Commit yourself to learning about the Christian faith and forming your conscience, and then share what you learn with others.
- Read good literature, listen to good music, watch good shows and encourage others to do the same.
- Take time to tutor someone who’s just beginning a task (think of your younger siblings, or colleagues. How many times have you lost your patience with someone who couldn’t seem to figure out how to do something?)
- Share your insights, knowledge and skills. (Popular thinking might have you hoarding information to stay “competitive”. Say No to this mindset. Help someone.)
- Be compassionate in calling people and institutions to be faithful to Gospel values. Edward Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Sometimes, simply saying something is all we can do.
- Intervene in situations where people are clearly doing harm to themselves or others.
- Respond to negative and prejudicial comments with positive statements.
- Put an end to gossip by walking away or ignoring it or refusing to respond.
- Set a good example for others.
What do you think? Do you have any ideas how else we could live this work of mercy?