The latest initiative to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy promotes the 14 spiritual and corporal works of mercy. And it aims to encourage Catholics around the Archdiocese of Louisville to give most, if not all of them, a try.
“The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are kind of like a road map,” said Deacon Lucio Caruso, who helped coordinate this initiative. “They flesh out in concrete ways the vision of mercy we want to be in the world.
“Some of these, we are already doing,” Deacon Caruso said, noting that oftentimes parents practice several of the works in the normal course of parenting. “And we can challenge ourselves as individuals, as families and parish communities to stretch ourselves” to try other works.
To give people concrete suggestions to practice these works, the Archdiocese of Louisville has created and printed small booklets — Mercy Passports — that list and explain each work of mercy. And passport holders are encouraged to record how they carried out a particular work of mercy in the booklet.
The archdiocese also hopes that participants — whether or not they use a passport — will also record their service hours online at www.archlou.org/worksmercy.
Organizers plan to tally the number of service hours completed during the Year of Mercy and announce the total later this year.
So far, about three dozen parishes and schools have ordered bundles of Mercy Passports. And orders are still being taken for the free booklets. They are paid for by the Catholic Services Appeal. The content of the booklets also can be downloaded at www.archlou.org/worksmercy.
“Individuals and or parishes can record, very simply, some of these actions so we as a diocese can gather a snapshot of all the good works of mercy going on,” Deacon Caruso said. “And we can share ideas and best practices.”
Deacon Caruso is certain, “We will be amazed and rejoice at how much we’re doing.”
“One of my hopes is that people will see how ordinary things they (the works of mercy) are — everybody can do it,” he said. “Reaching out to a classmate who’s lonely, for instance. Or maybe you’re learning to be a more forgiving person.”
He also hopes people feel inspired by hearing what other people are doing. (The Record will continue the Year of Mercy series this summer and fall, highlighting how people are living mercy.)
Deacon Caruso, who serves at Epiphany Church, is one of several coordinators of this initiative. Other coordinators are Deacon Scott Haner, Dr. Carole Goodwin of the archdiocese’s youth ministry; Janet Millen, volunteer coordinator for Catholic Charities and Karen O’Connell, who served as a consultant for getting the schools involved.
Deacon Caruso also works at Catholic Charities, which will be an important partner for many who want to try new works of mercy, especially the corporal works.
Catholic Charities offers volunteer opportunities in most of its programs — you could help refugees learn English; sort donated clothing for those in need at Sister Visitor; visit elderly people to ensure they are receiving the care they need; offer assistance to families facing a crisis pregnancy.
The list of opportunities goes on at Catholic Charities and at other agencies, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has conferences at parishes around the archdiocese.
Opportunities to live the spiritual works of mercy may seem a bit harder to find, but Deacon Caruso said they are all around us. Suggestions, which can be found in the Mercy Passport, include listening to someone grieving without giving advice to comfort the sorrowful; confront or report bullying to admonish sinners; and learn more about your faith and share it with others to instruct the ignorant.
Mercy Passports may be ordered by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals should check with their parish first, to see if passports have already or will be ordered.
And for more information or to report your service, visit www.archlou.org/worksmercy.