Ideas for ways to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy

Works of Mercy allow us to extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. Through the Corporal Works of Mercy we can help our neighbors with their material and physical needs. While many of the ways we can help involve adults and their time, talent and resources, children can help out in their own small ways, too.


In a discussion with the class we have talked about ways that we could help others by themselves, ways they could work with their parents to help others and ways we could work together as a class to help others. We tried to get the children to think beyond just the words – for example, visiting the imprisoned can be more than just visiting people in jail. Who else in our community is imprisoned? Who else can’t get around because of illness, injury, age, lack of means, and so on?

“Give alms to the poor” is also sometimes included on this list, though it is not one of the seven listed on our form. Donating money to organizations that can help provide services and support would be something you could list for each of the other works of mercy.


Corporal Works of Mercy:


Feed the hungry – donate a meal to a needy family, collect canned goods to stock a food pantry, make sandwiches to give to the homeless, give restaurant gift cards to people in need, help at a soup kitchen

Shelter the homeless – make blankets for homeless shelters, make blessing bags for the homeless, help with your parish’s homeless outreach program, donate time at a shelter

Clothe the naked – donate outgrown clothes to a charity like St. Vincent de Paul, put hats, gloves, shirts, socks and underwear in blessing bags for the homeless, collect jackets and cold weather gear to donate

Visit the sick – make cards to take to a hospital, collect toys and books to deliver to a children’s hospital, visit a neighbor or family member who is sick and take them a meal

Visit the imprisoned – work with your parish’s prison ministry, donate to those who have family members in prison, visit a nursing home or home-bound neighbor

Bury the dead – send a card to someone who has recently lost a loved one, visit a cemetery and pray, donate food and your time for funeral luncheons

Give drink to the thirsty – collect bottled water to donate to a shelter, donate water to a city with a water crisis such as Flint, MI or Detroit Public Schools



Spiritual Works of Mercy


Admonish the sinner

  • set a good example
  • remind a sibling or friend of the rules
  • offer to bring a friend or family member to Confession
  • have a calm and loving chat with a person with whom you have a relationship about a particular sinful behavior

Instruct the ignorant

  • teach a catechism class
  • share a helpful article or blog post in a friendly way
  • lend a good book
  • be an RCIA sponsor or a godparent
  • help a sibling read a book, play a game, or learn a prayer

Counsel the doubtful

  • pray outside an abortion clinic
  • be there to listen to a friend and give good advice
  • reach out to a friend you think might need good advice
  • help a sibling or friend make the right choice

Comfort the sorrowful

  • visit a friend or family member who is having a difficult time
  • send someone a sympathy card or a care package
  • remember the anniversary of a friend’s loss
  • read a story or sing a song to a sibling who is feeling sad

Bear wrongs patiently

  • don’t get mad at other drivers
  • assume the best of people you encounter in real life and online
  • give up a toy that a friend or sibling wants to play with, even though you had it first
  • don’t gossip about the bad behavior of others
  • don’t tattle

Forgive all injuries

  • forgive a grudge you’ve been holding, even if it was someone else’s fault
  • call or write to an estranged friend or family member
  • give a friend or sibling a second chance

Pray for the living and the dead

  • visit a cemetery, especially in November
  • keep a list of prayer intentions
  • say a family Rosary
  • pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for those who will die this day
  • pray the Prayer of St. Gertrude for the souls in Purgatory
  • choose a family in your community and dedicate an entire week to praying for them
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