Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

As students prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation, we encourage the students to perform the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy as a way of fostering their prayer life and relationship with Jesus Christ. To help the students achieve these spiritual goals, each student is given a record booklet in which they will reflect on the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy that they are performing on their own.

Students must Perform at least 3 Corporal Works of Mercy and 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy that benefit individuals who are truly in need of that service and then fill in a reflection sheet in your Confirmation Record Booklet for each Work of Mercy you perform.

Why should I do service during Confirmation prep?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that preparation for Confirmation should help enable a Christian to assume the apostolic responsibilities of the Christian life (CCC #1309). Further, it is the Church’s responsibility to discern whether or not a person is responsive to God’s grace and suitably prepared to receive Confirmation by looking for signs in that person’s life; one of which is manifested by our acts of charity and serving those in need.

How are these service expectations important?

These service expectations are important because 1) you’re not just counting hours and 2) the service you perform must help someone in need by fulfilling one of the Works of Mercy. Christian service is about deliberate moments of compassion performed out of love for those who are in real need. In this way we encounter Christ in those whom we serve and bring the love of Christ to them through our actions. For this reason, each act of service you perform should fall under one of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy in some way. Volunteering to pick up trash at a local park is nice and should be done, but it’s not a Work of Mercy. On the other hand, taking time to sit and visit with an elderly neighbor who may be lonely would definitely qualify!

The Works of Mercy are things that we should naturally do as Christians. This is meant to help you recognize and reflect, and act upon those things in your life.

What are the Works of Mercy?

Corporal Works of Mercy
Spiritual Works of Mercy
Feed the hungry Instruct the ignorant
Give drink to the thirsty Counsel the doubtful
Clothe the naked Admonish the sinner
Shelter the homeless Bear wrongs patiently
Visit the sick Forgive offenses willingly
Visit the imprisoned Comfort the sorrowful
Bury the dead Pray for the living and dead

Where do we find the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy?

The Corporal works of Mercy are taken from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells of how the righteous are ushered in to eternal life because of the merciful deeds they performed in Faith for those in need, and the Book of Tobit where he performs many charitable acts for his people including burying their dead with respect.

“Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' “ Matthew 25:34-36

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are taken from an assortment of verses throughout all of scripture and have been a part of the Tradition of the Catholic Church since the beginning.

How do I go about doing these acts of service?

The following pages list several ideas and organizations in our area where you may be able to fulfill your service obligations. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is meant to give you some ideas. Do your own research, find a way that you can help someone in need, directly or indirectly.

Some things, you can do on your own throughout the course of your daily life. Other things will require that you make a phone call and set up a time to go and serve at a particular organization or ministry.

Can you give us an example of how to fulfill this requirement?

Sure! It could look something like this:

  1. Called a food bank and helped sort food with my parents on a Saturday—Feed the Hungry
  2. Visited a nursing home and played games with the residents—Visit the sick/imprisoned
  3. Helped Helping Hands (St. Monica’s Ministry that hosts a funeral reception)—Bury the Dead
  4. Prayed in the Adoration Chapel for my family and friends—Pray for the living and the dead
  5. Tutored younger students after school—Instruct the ignorant
  6. Stood up for a kid at school who was being made fun of—Admonish the sinner

Here is a link to the Confirmation Record Booklet where the students can keep track of their service.