“Finally Marciana was seen. The municipality intervened. The Blessed Mother blesses her,” Rafael Vera from the Youth Ministry of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign in Paraguay relates with emotion. But long before she received medical attention, this old, blind, sick woman who lived in abject poverty and complete abandonment, received a visit from one of the young people who brought her clothes, food, the Pilgrim Mother for the blind and her presence, their songs, their love, their time. A work of mercy, making it visible and tangible in the Holy Year of Mercy. This story was shared on Schoenstatt.org and social networks, touching more than 6,000 people and perhaps also the municipality.
“In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them,” says Pope Francis in his Lenten message for 2016 in the Year of Mercy.
This is what Pope Francis does. After the opening of the Holy Door in the Hostel Don Luigi Di Liegro in Termini, he continues to give witness to practical signs of Mercy. One day in January, he unexpectedly entered through the door of the Bruno Buozzi old age shelter in the Torrespaccata neighbourhood at about 16:00 to visit about 30 old people who live in that shelter.
Visit the sick
If the spirit comes from God, it leads me to serve others
We can have”so many pastoral plans” – said Francis during one of the morning Masses at Santa Marta (7.1.2016) and we can think up “new methods for drawing people close,” but “if we do not follow the way of God, who came in the flesh, the Son of God who became man to journey with us, we are not on the path of the good spirit: it is the anti-Christ, it is worldliness, it is the spirit of the world.”
“How many people do we meet in our lives who appear spiritual! ‘What a spiritual person this is;’ but he does not speak about works of mercy. Why? Because works of mercy are the practical expression of our faith, that the Son of God became man: visit the sick, feed the hungry, care for those who have been cast aside…works of mercy: why? Because each brother of ours, whom we should love, is the body of Christ. God became man to identify with us. And when someone suffers, it is Christ who suffers.”
“Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God,” the Pope said. He added that “service to the neighbour, brother, sister who is in need — there are so many needs — even of advice, of my ear to be listened to: these are signs that we are on the path of the good spirit, that is, on the path of the Word of God who has come in the flesh.”
“We ask the Lord for the grace to be well aware of what is happening in our hearts, what we prefer doing, that is to say, what touches me most: whether it is the Spirit of God, which leads me to the service of others, or the spirit of the world that roams within me, in my closure, in my selfishness, in so many other things…let us ask for the grace to know what is happening in our hearts.”
Clothe the naked
An invitation to illustrate the Year of Mercy
We have already started with what we are inviting all the readers of schoenstatt.org. Since the start of the Year of Mercy, we have already published many articles that illustrate the works of mercy with real faces and projects….solidarity houses, Dequeni, prison ministry, visits to the sick…
Now, at the start of Lent, under the Holy Father’s theme for Lent: “works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee,” we want to invite all those who read schoenstatt.org to place their projects — big, small, community, personal – into the categories of the works of mercy and offer them to the shrine and the Church as an instrument of divine mercy.
If you are able and want you, you can ask for access to place your project directly on the page with photographs and short videos, or else you can send them to the editors: [email protected]. We will open up a section dedicated to works of mercy and we also invite you to talk about your projects in the comments section.
In real life we are often asked: Schoenstatt, what do you do? What do you do for us? We shouldn’t be surprised. They are asking us if we “touch the flesh of Christ in the brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited.” This is what Jesus will ask us one day.