Works Of Mercy


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Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) presentation on "Works of Mercy," presented by David Jensen at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 26 Jan 2010.

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Works Of Mercy

  1. 1. Works of Mercy
  2. 2. Opening Prayer Dear Lord, help me to remove from my mind every thought or opinion which You would not sanction, every feeling from my heart which You would not approve. Grant that I may spend the hours of the day gladly working with You according to Your will.
  3. 3. Opening Prayer Help me just for today and be with me in it. In the long hours of work, that I may not grow weary or slack in serving You. In conversation that they may not be to me occasions of un-charitableness. In the day's worries and disappointments, that I may be patient with myself and with those around me. In moments of fatigue and illness, that I may be mindful of others rather than of myself.
  4. 4. Opening Prayer In temptations, that I may be generous and loyal, so that when the day is over I may lay it at Your feet, with its successes which are all Yours, and its failures which are all my own, and feel that life is real and peaceful, and blessed when spent with You as the Guest of my soul. Amen.
  5. 5. Overview • False Opinions • Catholic Doctrine about Charity on Works • Love for the Poor • Faith Perfected by • Spiritual Works of Works Mercy • What is Merit? • Corporal Works of • Obedience of Mercy Faith • Works of Mercy • Good Works Done Well
  6. 6. False Opinions about Charity • Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood: ―The Cruelty of Charity…. Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty. It is a deliberate storing up of miseries for future generations. There is no greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing population of imbeciles‖1 "[They are] an unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.‖2
  7. 7. False Opinions about Charity • Margaret Sanger, continued… ―…apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring…give certain dysgenic [i.e. unfit] groups in our population their choice of segregation [i.e., concentration camps] or sterilization….‖ 3
  8. 8. False Opinions about Charity • Margaret Sanger, continued… ―… take an inventory of…illiterates, paupers, unemployables…classify them in special departments…segregate them…as long as necessary…. Having corralled this enormous part of our population…the future citizen [will be] safeguarded from hereditary taints.‖4
  9. 9. Love for the Poor • ―Love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes and by the example of Jesus in his constant concern for the poor.‖5 • Matthew 25:40 ―Whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done to me‖
  10. 10. Love for the Poor • ―Love for the poor shows itself through the struggle against material poverty and also against the many forms of cultural, moral, and religious poverty. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy and the many charitable institutions formed throughout the centuries are a concrete witness to the preferential love for the poor which characterizes the disciples of Jesus.‖5
  11. 11. Spiritual Works of Mercy6 1. Counsel the doubtful 2. Instruct the ignorant 3. Admonish sinners 4. Comfort the afflicted 5. Forgive offenses 6. Bear wrongs patiently 7. Pray for the living and the dead
  12. 12. Corporal Works of Mercy6 1. Feed the hungry. 2. Give drink to the thirsty. 3. Clothe the naked. 4. Shelter the homeless. 5. Visit the sick. 6. Visit the imprisoned. 7. Bury the dead.
  13. 13. Works of Mercy • Coincide with various forms of almsgiving —―alms‖ derives from the Greek word for ―mercy‖ • Acts 26:20 ―…repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy (Gk axios ergon) of repentance.‖ • Read Matt 25:31-46
  14. 14. Good Works Done Well • "It is not enough to do good works; they need to be done well. For our works to be good and perfect, they must be done for the sole purpose of pleasing God‖7 -- St. Alphonsus Maria De Liguori
  15. 15. Pope Quiz • True or False? The Popes have taught the following doctrine: – ―[We are] justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.‖ • True. Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, 13 Jan 1547, Decree on Justification
  16. 16. Discussion question • Martin Luther taught: – ―[Catholics] say that we must believe in Christ and that faith is the foundation of salvation, but they say that this faith does not justify unless it is ―formed by love.‖ This is not the truth of the Gospel; it is a falsehood and pretense …we refuse to concede…that faith formed by love justifies.‖ (Luther’s Works 26, 88-90) • Question: Is there a supernatural reward for works of mercy (love) performed by those in Christ (the faithful)? If so, in what is the reward?
  17. 17. Catholic Doctrine on Works • Catholic doctrine teaches we are justified by faith, hope, and charity – Faith = gift from God – Works = fruit of justification • Justification is not a ―one time‖ event – Rev 22:11 ―he that is just, let him be justified still‖ • In Catholic teaching, justifying faith is faith which is ―formed by‖ love (―love believes all things,‖ ―faith that worketh through love‖)
  18. 18. Faith Perfected by Works • James 2:17-24 ―faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead…Even the demons believe-- and shudder…. Abraham our father [was] justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar…you see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed (i.e. perfected) by works…man is justified by works and not by faith alone…. faith apart from works is dead. ‖
  19. 19. What is Merit? • Merit (noun) derives from Latin meritum, ―reward due;‖ akin to Greek meiresthai , ―to receive as one's portion,‖ meros , ―part‖ • Merit (verb) can also mean ―to be worthy of‖ • Merit has also come to be associated with the ―work‖ itself, insofar as it receives a reward, good or bad
  20. 20. What is Merit? • There are two kinds of merit (reward) which depend upon whether the merit is due according to justice or merely bestowed out of graciousness • Condign Merit – reward due from justice; equality between service and return – Example: just payment for work performed
  21. 21. What is Merit? • Congruous Merit – reward bestowed out of graciousness – Examples: gratuities (i.e. giving a tip to a waitress) and military decorations. These are not deserved due to justice, strictly speaking, but are bestowed gratuitously based upon deeds accomplished. This kind of reward always depends upon the kindness of the giver
  22. 22. What is Merit? • The opposite of ―believe‖ (Gk pisteuo) is ―disobey‖ – Jn 3:36 ―He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.‖ • The ―obedience of faith‖ (Rom 1:5; 16:26) or good works of the just make a man better, and, provided they are done freely, they truly merit an increase in grace and glory
  23. 23. What is Merit? • Being made the ―friends of God‖ (Jn 15:15), we can advance from virtue to virtue • We are ―renewed from day to day‖ (2 Cor 4:16) by putting away evil desires (Col 3:5), presenting ourselves as ―instruments of justice‖ (Rom 6:13, 19) • By grace through ―faith cooperating with good works‖ (Jam 2:22) our justice is increased and the just are ―justified still‖ (Rev 22:11)
  24. 24. What is Merit? • This increase the Church prays for: ―Give unto us, O Lord, an increase of faith, hope and charity‖ • Merit (reward) of ―good works‖ is the fruit of justification • 1 Cor 15:58 ―abound in every good work knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord‖ • Read Col 3:24-26
  25. 25. Obedience of Faith • Sermon8 by Protestant (Calvinist) pastor, C.H. Spurgeon … – "Have I that faith which leads me to obey my God?—for obedience, if it be of the kind we are speaking of, is faith in action—faith walking with God― – ―The religion of mere brain and jaw does not amount to much. We want the religion of hands and feet‖
  26. 26. Obedience of Faith • C.H. Spurgeon, continued… – ―Those who practice the obedience of faith look for the reward hereafter,... They know the words, "No cross, no crown;" and they recognise the truth that, if there is no obedience here, there will be no reward hereafter.... The obedience which faith produces must be continuous....‖
  27. 27. Obedience of Faith • C.H. Spurgeon, continued… – ―... this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God.... a holy walk—the walk faith working obedience—is heaven beneath the stars. God comes down to walk with men who obey. If they walk with him, he walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with his servants as they obey. Obedience is heaven in us, and it is the preface of our being in heaven. Obedient faith is the way to eternal life—nay, it is eternal life revealing itself.‖
  28. 28. Questions?
  29. 29. References 1. Sanger, Margaret, The Pivot of Civilization, NY: Brentanos, 1922, p. 105 2. Ibid. , p. 187 3. Sanger, Margaret, A Plan for Peace, published in Birth Control Review, April 1932, pp. 107-108 4. Ibid. 5. Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCCC), no. 520 6. Ibid., appendix 7. Saint Alphonsus Maria De Liguori, Pratica di amar Gesù Cristo, VI, cited by John Paul II in Veritatis Spendor 8. [8] Spurgeon, C. H., A Sermon (No. 2195), delivered 21 Aug 1890 at the Matropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, Web, accessed 26 Jan 2010, URL: