Reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy
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Reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy

The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.

Feed the Hungry

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor (Proverbs 22:9).
And one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:16)

To share food is grounded in the belief that God has blessed us with an abundant world where there is more than enough to go around. The miracle of the loaves and fish shows us that when we place what we have in the hands of Jesus, everyone not only has their fill, but there is an abundance left over. How can we live with trust in an abundant harvest, share what we have while also receiving what we need?

Give Drink to the Thirsty

I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground, streams upon the dry land; I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring, my blessing upon your descendants. Isaiah 44:3

There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity. Pope Francis Laudato Si para 211.    

  • Reduce your water consumption.
  • Visit your local water provider.    
  • Read “Drop by Drop” to your elementary age child or grandchildren.  
  • Read and reflect on Pope Francis' comments on potable water in his recent encyclical Laudato Si.       
  • Examine your monthly water bill. Ask yourself how you might cut back on consumption. Share the money that you save with CRS to help fund its water projects.     
  • Examine how much you spend each month on bottled water. Make a conscious effort to reduce this expanse. Share the money you saved with CRS to help it fund its water projects.

Catholic Relief Services

Global Partners Running Waters, Inc

Environmental Protection Agency
Conserving Water

Water With Blessings

Clothe the Naked

“Solidarity presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, #188)

Works of Mercy usually begin as acts of charity. Today it is essential that they become acts of justice to effect changes in structures that support poverty.

  • Donate gently used clothing to people in need.
  • Initiate a parish response to provide clothing to persons who are victims of fires and other catastrophes.
  • Encourage a student response to Catholic Charities program of “Kids Kicking Poverty” in providing backpacks etc. to refugee children.
  • Purchase clothing from Fair Trade stores.
  • Join efforts to support stores in buying products from companies that pay workers just wages.
  • Contact shelters for a list of articles needed by persons who have taken refuge there.
  • Donate new or gently used baby clothes to organizations that assist pregnant women.
  • Volunteer to assist older or disabled adults to shop for their clothing.
  • Become advocates for products that are not made in “sweat shops,” companies that disrespect the rights of the workers in order to make a larger profit.
  • Develop the practice of giving away one gently used article of clothing each time a new one is purchased.

Catholic Charities
“Kids Kicking Poverty,” In-Home Support program to assist older or disabled adults, Child Welfare Program to assist women expecting children. or 414-769-3401

Four Corners of the World Eco-Friendly and Fair Trade
5401 W. Vliet
Milwaukee WI 53208

House of Peace

Society of St. Vincent De Paul
120 parish conferences coordinated by nine District Councils

Sojourner Family Peace Center

Catholic Social Justice Ministry & Dignity of the Human Person
Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Shelter the Homeless

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:6-8

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

Reflection: For some, to be homeless is to be deprived of a secure and acceptable dwelling, to lack the basic human rights of shelter and safety. For others, to be homeless is to live without meaningful connections – to self, to family, to community, to God. How can we both ensure that all have a safe place to sleep and live as well as to make meaningful connections to people who live in any kind of isolation?

Visit the Sick  

Luke 10: 33-34. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.

Catechism 1509 "Heal the sick!"(2 Cor. 12:9; Col 1:24) The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health. (Mt 10:8)

  • Research the theology and development of the Catholic sacrament "anointing of the sick."  
  • Invite a hospice chaplain to address your group.  
  • Plan a household activity in which each member can be involved in outreach to a sick person in need of attention.  
  • Volunteer at a local hospital or skilled nursing facility (Catholic facilities listed below).


  • Columbia St. Mary's Hospital, Milwaukee
  • Columbia St. Mary's, Women's Hospital, Milwaukee
  • Columbia St. Mary's, Ozaukee Campus, Mequon
  • HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan
  • Ripon Medical Center, Ripon
  • Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute, Milwaukee
  • St. Agnes Hospital, Fond du Lac
  • St. Catherine's Hospital, Inc., Pleasant Prairie
  • The Wisconsin Heart Hospital, Milwaukee
  • Wheaton Franciscan - St. Joseph, Milwaukee
  • Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - All Saints, Racine
  • Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - Franklin, Franklin
  • Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Elmbrook Memorial, Brookfield
  • Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-St. Francis, Milwaukee

Skilled Nursing Facilities

  • Alexian Village of Milwaukee, Inc., Milwaukee
  • Clement Manor Health Center, Greenfield
  • Clement Manor Inc., Greenfield
  • Franciscan Villa, South Milwaukee
  • Franciscan Woods, Brookfield
  • Milwaukee Catholic Home, Inc., Milwaukee
  • St. Anne's Salvatorian Campus, Milwaukee
  • St. Francis Home, Fond du Lac
  • The Terrace at St. Francis, Milwaukee

Visit the Imprisoned

“I was in prison and you visited me” Matthew 25:36.

To view those imprisoned as a throwaway society is to forget the fact that we are all members of Christ, whether we are locked up or free. Inmates should not be forgotten or regarded as beyond hope. If we call ourselves disciples of Jesus we are asked to look at ways to be the presence of Jesus to them.

  • How does one live this corporal work of mercy today?
  • Become a volunteer for visiting someone incarcerated.
  • Corresponding with someone that is incarcerated.
  • Mentor someone coming out of incarceration.
  • Assist those coming out of Jail / Prison to find housing.
  • Assist those coming out of Jail / Prison to find employment.
  • Be a companion for families of someone incarcerated.
  • Become a partner in Restorative Justice Programs.
  • Be an Advocate for Prison Reform (from Capital Punishment to Sentencing of lesser crimes).
  • Sponsor speakers on Criminal Justice Reform.
  • Financial support for materials to inmates such as bibles and spiritual reading materials.
  • Be a spiritual support system for those incarcerated and their families.

Dismas Ministry Milwaukee

Bienaventurados Ministry

Project Return of Milwaukee

St Vincent Waukesha County

Transforming Lives Behind Bars Here and Around the World” Sheboygan County

Prison Fellowship

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist – Milwaukee - (Doing Time Together Support Group for Families)

Archdiocese of Milwaukee Prison Ministry - Offers Service in Spanish for Families of the incarcerated

St. Benedict the Moor Parish - Milwaukee

Holy Family Parish - Fond Du Lac

Racine County Jail Chaplaincy

Prison Aftercare Network of Wisconsin (PAN)

Circles of Support, Goodwill Industries

Restorative Justice Programs

Contact your local County Jail or State Prisons systems, Chaplains office, for opportunities to become involved in Religious Bible Study

Bury the Dead

Burying the dead is the only one of the Corporal Works of mercy not named in the parable of the sheep and the goats – "When I was hungry you gave me food. . . .” It comes from the book of Tobit: “If I saw any of my nation dead, or cast around the walls of Nineveh, I buried him” (Tobit 1:17). “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:36–55).

The Corporal Work of Mercy, Bury the Dead, calls us to treat the dead “with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). We are called to mourn and pray for the dead, to entrust them to God and to comfort their loved ones.

How do we live this corporal work of mercy today?

  • As a family, research where your deceased family members are buried and take a family trip to visit their gravesites and pray for them.
  • Be faithful about attending wakes / visitations and funerals of family and friends.
  • Form or join a bereavement committee at your parish. (Print and media resources are available from the archdiocesan Nazareth Project.)
  • Support or volunteer at a hospice.
  • Research and support ministries that offer free Christian burials to those unable to afford one.
  • Supply a dish for a funeral luncheon.
  • Examine your life to see what old grudges or injuries you have refused to relinquish and choose to “bury” them by setting them aside and reconciling with others.
  • Volunteer to take notes for a school mate who needs to be absent for the funeral of a loved one.

This corporal work of mercy is directly related to the spiritual work of mercy – to pray for the living and the dead.

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
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