Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine...

Servant of God, Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movment once observed that “[t]he early Christians started with the works of mercy and it was this technique which converted the world.”

In Dorothy Day's words, the Works of Mercy are divided into two lists:
“The corporal works: To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to harbor the harborless; to ransom the captive; to visit the sick; to bury the dead. The spiritual works are: To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offense willingly; to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead.”

The works of mercy served as the basis for her work among the poor, jobless, and homeless in the Bowery over in the East Village. These good works should also serve as the basis for the life of each and every Christian, after all, they have converted the world once before and Jesus' final command was to go and make disciples of all nations. Working on the streets of the New York outside the dark Satanic mills where thousands of babies die each year, or in an one of the offices, I've had a good deal of reasons to reflect on Dorothy Day and her work. After all, she herself suffered from the consequences of an abortion in a situation not all that different from many of the women that I talk to every day.

It seems to me that of the corporal works of mercy, the most directly related to our work here at EMC is ransoming the captive, in this case a child doomed to die. On top of that, pretty much the entire list of the spiritual works of mercy applies. Lent is a time not just of fasting or prayer. It is about perfecting our imitation of Christ. What better way is there in imitating Christ than by seeing Christ in others, in the unborn and in the mother and father, and then by helping to the best of my ability whatever that case may require. It is responding to Christ's call to help Him, hidden in the form of the “least” of this world.

Quotes from The Catholic Worker, February 1935, 7 online at:

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