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EDITORIAL: As Lent approaches, let’s look at ways in which we can physically, spiritually be present to ourselves and others

Are you ready for mercy in motion?

As Catholic Christians, we’re called to extend our mercy to others every day. As the penitential season of Lent approaches, we recognize this as a special time to be steadfastly merciful.

Corporal and spiritual works of mercy extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need, covering material and physical needs, as well as emotional and spiritual needs.

The works of mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and give us a model for how we should treat others — as if they were Christ in disguise. They “are charitable actions by which we help our neighbors in their bodily needs” (U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults). They respond to the basic needs of humanity as we journey together through this life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs that “the works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (Catechism 2447)

In this week’s edition of the St. Louis Review, we see the works of mercy in motion through the efforts of young adults involved in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. They provide physical assistance to others in need while seeking to grow spiritually through the experience.

On the spiritual side, older adults share their stories of living faith and having a prayer life, with their younger counterparts at Our Lady of Lourdes School in University City.

The practice of spiritual direction, as highlighted in this week’s Living Our Faith, seeks to help people develop a closer relationship with the Lord. A good spiritual director gives counsel to the doubtful, helping them to self-reflect and see where the Lord is working in their lives.

In his column this week, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson encourages us to begin thinking about our Lenten resolutions, which should make a contribution to the life of faith.

Where is it that we most need to be purified?

Is there something absent or diminished in our lives and needs to be strengthened?

We can look for those missing pieces of our lives through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Plus, we get to extend mercy to others.

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