Emily shares her personal experiences of works of mercy and reminds us of the importance of living our lives with mercy & love in action. She also invites us to spend time and discern with the Lord during this season of Lent.
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“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:21
- Emily discusses the need for discernment when thinking about doing works of mercy. Discernment is needed to evaluate the stage of life that you are living and what different works of mercy could look like realistically in your life. What is the Lord calling you to do? What is He calling you not to do? Take a moment to pray for discernment in this area of your life.
- God has made sure that we all have something to contribute, even if we don’t know what it is yet! What opportunities may help you practice a work of mercy, raise your spirit and help others? Consider how praying for others, even — maybe specifically for those you know in need, can be an act of mercy for them.
- Have you ever had a profound experience while doing a work of mercy? If so, what happened? How did it bring you closer to God?
- During this Lenten season, make a point to do at least one spiritual or corporal work of mercy. Here are just a few examples of Spiritual works of Mercy: counseling the doubtful, forgiving injuries, bearing wrongs patiently. Here are some Corporal works of Mercy: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick. Do any of these resonate with you?
Text: The Importance of Mercy & Love in Action
Welcome back to the Pray More Novenas Retreat. My name is Emily Jaminet, and I’m really excited and honored to lead this session for you on the importance of mercy and love in action. This talk will focus on the significance of our Christian witness in the world. So, let’s begin in prayer.
In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen. Dear Lord, calm my inner chaos and bring peace to my mind and refresh my soul. Allow me to be a vessel of your living waters and share it with those who need strength. Help me to be merciful to my neighbor and to love you above all things. Amen.
Called to be the Hands and Feet of Christ
So, I thought I would share with you this little statue here of the Infant of Prague, as you can see it doesn’t have any hands, just like the Infant of Prague that is in Prague to this day. This is my Infant of Prague. There was one day where I was cleaning my son’s room and I happened to knock the statue over and out popped Jesus’ arms. I was so frustrated in that moment, I was cleaning the house, all of a sudden, I break this beautiful statue that my mother gave my sons, and yet it was a moment to pause on the significance of this little statue breaking his hands off. For we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. We are called to go forth and to proclaim the Gospel not just with our words, but also our actions.
So, this little Infant of Prague has taken on new meaning with his two broken hands. It sits in my office and it reminds me of, what can I do on this day? What’s the Lord calling me to do? What’s He inviting me to do? And what is He inviting me to not do? So, this talk will also include a little bit about the importance of discernment.
Love and Mercy in Action
Now, especially as Christian Catholic women, we can get really good at being busy like good little busy bees and volunteering here doing that there and being very involved in our community. But the truth is there is a need for discernment so that you don’t only not do the things that we’re supposed to do but that you don’t burn out. You don’t lose focus of what is the Lord inviting you to do, right? That love and mercy in action, what does that look like in your very own life? Now to discern that love and mercy in action, we’re going to focus on this key scripture passage found in Matthew 20:28. “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
So, Jesus even gave us through His life, His death, His entire purpose of coming here was to show us what love and mercy looks like, to be transformed by the Gospel so that we too could be set free to live out this tremendous, beautiful mission of proclaiming the Gospel in our life.
So, with that again, “the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.” So, what does that service look like in your life? What does it look like in my life? And the key to that is discernment. So, I love the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart. I know Pray More Novenas always invites you every single June to pray the novena to the most sacred heart of Jesus. And that first promise given from Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1670s is, “I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.”
And that state in life is important, that discernment of where am I in life right now, what is my calling? And for some of us, it might be that, oh I’m called initially to the religious life. I’m called to get married. I’m called to become a religious sister and those big decisions are important. I remember discerning religious life and recognizing that that was not my vocation.
What Are You Called to Do?
But with that discernment, we also can break it down a little bit more specifically. What’s going on in your life today? What’s the Lord in inviting you to do today? And maybe you have more time on your hands and you just haven’t really transitioned into what to do with that extra time on your hands. You’re newly retired and you want to serve the Lord more but you don’t really, you haven’t really stepped out yet. Or maybe you’re a young mom or a young parent. And it seems like time, all of a sudden just disappeared and you’re really over committed, you feel anxious, you feel like you don’t get enough time to even pray but you’re really good at saying yes to other people.
So, figuring out what is that state in life for you and what are you called to do. Now, a great way to evaluate your Christian service putting your faith in action is to always begin each and every decision of service in a spirit of prayer. It can begin with that morning prayer, begins with discernment, begins with really saying, Lord, are you inviting me? Are you the one calling me to do this particular piece of service, especially if it involves a commitment?
One of the things I know if you’re married, those commitments also should be run by your spouse, right? A lot of times inviting your spouse to discern with you an invitation to serve especially when it is a little bit of a bigger commitment than just a short term work of mercy. So that prayer, the discernment is really important. And then understanding where are we invited to serve and what does that look like?
Spiritual Works of Mercy
I think I can’t say enough about the spiritual and corporal works of mercy are such a great way to plug in to see the things that you can do right in your very own life. Mother Church gives us these lists of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In my book, “Divine Mercy for Moms” that I co-authored with Michelle Faehnle, we connected the St Faustina, the Divine Mercy message even to the works of mercy.
So, let’s review what those works of mercy are and go a little bit deeper. The chief spiritual works of mercy consists of admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful and bearing witness patiently to forgive all injuries and to pray for the living and the dead.
Those spiritual works of mercy are really important because they remind us, especially as parents, as Catholics that we’re invited to instruct others. We’re invited to bear wrongs patiently. It gives us a formula of what our witness looks like in the world. To pray for the living and the dead is a beautiful corporal and spiritual work of mercy. And I love to say can be even just looking on your Facebook and when someone one tells you something about the passing of a loved one, pray for the living and the dead involved in that. But seeing that real life connection, that love and mercy in action with those spiritual works of mercy, especially if your vocation is to have children, being married with children, we can really provide so much formation right in our very own home.
Corporal Works of Mercy
Now, the corporal works of mercy are involving our actual service. So first feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned. And this idea, these works of mercy remind us of not just forming the other person or how we are going to respond to situations but to really go forth and do deeds, do loving deeds is so important. And I love that Matthew 25:45, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” So, with that, the corporal and spiritual works and mercy are a reminder that Jesus wants us to serve others. He showed us in His life, and we can do the same as well.
So, let’s break this down a little bit. And for example, giving drink to the thirsty. As a mom of seven children, I have been providing a lot of drinks for the thirsty for a number of years. Now, I can say there are times I’ve been resentful. I haven’t thought of myself as the hands and feet of Christ. It’s like, if somebody asked me one more thing, I can’t handle it, right. But I lack the cheerfulness. I lack the perspective, maybe in those moments that we were called to have, that we are called to have when we serve.
So, I want to break that down a little bit more precisely. So first when someone says “mom, can you get me a drink of water?” The first thing I can think is, “sure I’d love to get you a drink of water.” I’m right here in the kitchen. It’s not a problem, I can see that you’re not feeling well, I’d love to get you a drink of water. A second response might be, “I’m actually doing another work of mercy. I’m getting your sisters ready to go out the door. Could you please get a drink of water?” Or “could you please get a drink of water and get one for your sisters as well?” encouraging them to see the value in the work of mercy.
Sometimes as parents, our works of mercy are meant to even train our children to see the needs of others. And that’s what’s so beautiful about love and mercy in action is that it’s not just about changing our heart and impacting others but forming our children to do the same as well. So, giving drink to the thirsty is a great example. And figuring out that, again, discernment of what is the priority here? What is the lesson I’m teaching and what is really in the best interest of the peace, the joy of the family, the culture of the family, making sure that all of those are intact when you do these works of mercy, right? That cheerfulness. God loves a cheerful giver for sure, that’s very, very important.
A Personal Experience with Works of Mercy
So, I wanted to break this down and give you an example of something that really impacted me. And when we’re invited to do these works of mercy, when were invited to serve other people, we can sometimes get ourselves into a work of mercy we didn’t even plan on doing. So, I wanted to share with you an example of a work of mercy I was privileged to participate in, and it kind of stumbled into my lap, that love and mercy in action.
So, I was attending a wedding shower and I was talking to the bride about her wedding needs, such as tell me about the wedding cake that you intend to have. She responded with, “I actually don’t intend to have a wedding cake, they’re just too expensive. I think we’ll have some desserts cut up in the back and we’ll bring them out.” With that, I responded, “well, I’d love to make your wedding cake. Surely it wouldn’t be that difficult.” Now I had never made wedding cake in my life. I actually was pregnant with my sixth child. I do not have the perfect kitchen to do wedding cake, but I knew that God was inviting me into something really beautiful. I just felt this peace, this excitement about doing this work of mercy. And I really thought, well, what better present for this young couple than providing their wedding cake? That could be my gift. That could be my contribution to the wedding.
So, she was more than excited about my offer, and I was driving home and thought, wow, now what did I get myself into? I spent a little bit of time discerning. I told my husband that I wanted to give cake for their wedding present. And that this is something I felt called to do. He also knew my limitations, but he was open to this idea of me providing cake. So that week my mom called me and said, “Emily you will not believe what I found at a garage sale. A whole stack of cake pans for 25 cents each.” So, I actually the Lord showed me in this amazing sign, what could mean nothing to somebody else, but to me personally, it was a sign that I was definitely called to do this work of mercy.
So, with that, I knew I couldn’t make all these cakes on my own for this big wedding. I picked up the phone and I called my friends. I invited them to make cake with me. Now, when then I told them initially that the cake was for a wedding, they all turned me down. They’d say, “I’m not a good enough baker. I don’t have a great recipe, I don’t think I can make cake for a wedding, that’s too much pressure.” But when I said, I just need you to make two or three cakes for a situation for special celebration, they always said, yes, right? Sometimes we’re too intimidated to do the works of mercy that the Lord’s invited us to do, that love and mercy in action, so it’s better to take baby steps moving forward and trust in the Lord.
Now I figured out what cake I was going to make, the next big obstacle I had was I realized I’d actually never decorated a wedding cake before. So, I was sitting at one of my classes for my children. They were attending a nature class, and the mom next to me asked if I wanted to see her most recent hobby of cake decorating. She just made a cake for a priest ordination. And my jaw had dropped to the ground. I couldn’t believe that she had a passion and love for decorating cakes. I told her about the situation I was in. She was also invited to the exact same wedding as well. And she was more than ecstatic to help me. She didn’t only help me, but she invited me to decorate the cakes at her house, a newly renovated kitchen. And I knew that would be a great place to decorate these cakes.
So, with that, we picked a date. I went around and collected all the cakes throughout the city of different moms who agreed to help with this work of mercy. We delivered them, we decorated them, and her husband even drove them down to the wedding reception as he had a car with all the seats out in the back, an extra car he used to go cycling. So, with that, the Lord even provided the vehicle we needed to transport these cakes. Now I have to admit, I never have made cake like that again, but it was such a beautiful work of mercy that I knew the Lord was inviting me to participate in.
When I was leaving the reception, one of the servers stopped me and she said, are you the cake lady? And I just had to giggle because technically I was. But as you and I both know; I didn’t make all those cakes. I didn’t decorate all those cakes. So, I said, yes. And she said, “these were some of the best cakes I’ve ever had. The variety of cake was amazing”. And I paused and said, “you’re right, because they were made by the hands of the Catholic community.”
And with that, when we’re called to love and mercy and action, the Lord might actually be inviting you to organize a work of mercy, to inspire others to serve as well, similar to being the hands and feet to Christ. I know that that opportunity of serving empowered me to do other work to mercy. It reminded me of the importance of putting the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in action in my home and in the wider community, of holding hope in my heart knowing that we can influence others, that we get to be part of proclaiming the kingdom of God. And now is such a wonderful time to see the significance of these works of mercy when it comes to healing, especially healing the heart.
The Lord might be inviting you to do a particular work of mercy, love and mercy of action of serving others so that you too can be transformed in your heart that you can experience Christ in a new way. The joy of serving, getting outside of yourself and seeing the value of serving others just like Jesus served us. My name again, is Emily Jaminet. And I sure would love to connect with you again at our next session.
A Prayer from Saint Faustina
Before we close in prayer, I would like to share with you a beautiful prayer that comes right out of the diary of Saint Faustina. This prayer has really impacted my own life in receiving the graces of healing and helping me to better serve those in my life.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. O most Holy Trinity. I want to be completely transformed into your mercy and to be your living reflection. O Lord, help me that my eyes may be merciful, so that they may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s soul and come to their rescue. Help me that my ears may be merciful so that I may give heed to my neighbors needs and not be indifferent to their pains and to their moaning. Help me, Oh Lord, that my tongue may be merciful so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor but have words of comfort and forgiveness for all. Help me, O, Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds so that they do only good to my neighbor and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks. Help me, Oh Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and wariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor. Help me, O, Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. May your mercy O Lord, rest upon me. Amen.
About Emily Jaminet
Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children ranging from 21-5 and the Executive Director of the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network found at www.welcomeHisHeart.com. She is the co-founder of www.inspirethefaith.com, and her ministry podcast is Inspired by Faith is an outreach of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. Her fifth book just came out this year: Secrets of the Sacred Heart: 12 Ways to Claim Jesus’ Promises along with the previous titles she co-authored including The Friendship Project, Divine Mercy for Moms, Our Friend Faustina and Pray Fully. Emily can be found at www.emilyjaminet.com and on social media as EmilyJaminet. She lives in Columbus, OH, with her family.