Diocese of Austin English Cursillo
National Newsletter: 2019
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Always De Colores!
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Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
Mercy as it is here contemplated is said to be a virtue influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune. It is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that although mercy is as it were the spontaneous product of charity, yet it is to be reckoned a special virtue adequately distinguishable from this latter. In fact the Scholastics in cataloguing it consider it to be referable to the quality of justice mainly because, like justice, it controls relations between distinct persons. It is as they say ad alterum. Its motive is the misery which one discerns in another, particularly in so far as this condition is deemed to be, in some sense at least, involuntary. Obviously the necessity which is to be succoured can be either of body or soul. Hence it is customary to enumerate both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:
To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To harbour the harbourless
To visit the sick
To ransom the captive
To bury the dead
(The spiritual works of mercy)
To instruct the ignorant
To counsel the doubtful
To admonish sinners
To bear wrongs patiently
To forgive offences willingly; To comfort the afflicted; To pray for the living and the dead.