These online lessons may be used:
• by individuals anytime, anywhere.
• in group settings — families, faith sharing groups, faith formation programs, and schools.
• in “flipped” classroom situations for people to view before meeting face to face.
You may just want to use a suggested video, story, or question — in anyway that helps us recognize that God’s mercy is anytime, anywhere, and we are called to be merciful as well.
The structure of the lesson is based on Msgr. Francis Kelly’s Ecclesial Method.
Step 1 – Preparation: Each lesson will begin with a video and prayer to help us focus on the Works of Mercy in General.
Works of Mercy Reflection:
Do you ever feel hopeless watching the news?
List three ways news viewers can keep from becoming indifferent to human suffering.
Loving God, You are never indifferent to human suffering. Yet we, Your people, can become numb to the plight of our brothers and sisters when their story is too painful or widespread to bear.
Help us to remember that, while You never promised to take away our suffering, You promised to be with us. Help us remember that our mission is to be Your “heart of mercy, voice of hope, and hands of justice“. Renew in us Your Spirit, to make Your Mercy real here on earth. Amen.
Step 2 – Proclamation: Each lesson will repeat the Works of Mercy to help us remember them.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy:
The Spiritual Works of mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Comfort the afflicted
Forgive all offenses/injury
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead
The Corporal Works of Mercy:
The Corporal Works of mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.
Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
Step 3 – Explanation: This step will address a specific Work of Mercy.
This Month: Feed the Hungry and Give Drink to the Thirsty
Feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty are two very obvious works of mercy. We see poverty and drought on the news, sometimes to the point of desensitizing us to widespread need. Still, as Pope Francis says in the video above:
God listens and intervenes to save, urging people to be able to hear the groans of the suffering, and to work in favor of the oppressed.
This is a great insight to the way God works. Some could be tempted to say that God does not hear the cry of the poor, “Why doesn’t God fix hunger and thirst.” But how many believers can say that they haven’t felt the prompting of the Spirit when it comes to issues of hunger, thirst and other calls to love others?
When have you felt the Spirit prompting you to pray, study or act (or even rest)? What were you called to do?
Step 4 – Application and Appropriation into Life is the bridge between head knowledge and daily living as a disciple of Christ.
To reflect on the Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the Hungry and Give Drink to the Thirsty, it helps to become re-acquainted with some basic statistics:
Have you heard any other statistics about hunger, or lack of water?
Share a story of someone you know who helps those needing food or water.
Faith in Action:
How do you feel when you see a homeless person?
Share about an experience you had giving someone food or money for food directly.
Faith in Education:
This video was created with an iPhone, edited in iMovie and uploaded to YouTube.
Parishes/Schools can create such resources themselves for free.
Share a time you truly felt hunger. If you are a parent, describe what it was like to have a hungry child.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink...” Share a favorite lesson you learned from providing for others in this way, or from someone else who worked to feed the hungry or give drink to the thirsty.
Suggested Activities (Add your suggestions below):
Thank you Kateri Mancini for additional resources or suggested activities for families, parishes and schools. Here are some ideas:
- Visit Water Challenges for a list of “water challenges” to help your family or school conserve water; this link also references another website with further games for kids and lesson plans for teachers, among other resources.
- Celebrate World Water Day on March 22nd
- Visit http://www.theh2oproject.org which includes educational resources, videos, and free materials to take the H2O challenge like CHS students did in 2008
- Donate water filter systems that are helping families and communities have safer water (Note: please be sure that any organization you support with filters, well-drilling or other water projects is a legitimate non-profit organization in line with the Catholic Social Teachings, and works collaboratively with the people of any regions in which they are implementing their projects).
- Watch “Water is Life” Video. Encourage your youth group to make their own video sharing why water is important to them.
- Support the Water for Life project through CRS and DCCW; find more information by contacting the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.
- Read “Drop by Drop,” a children’s story book written by the USCCB & Loyola Press, about a young girl in Burkina Faso and the water project that helped her village
- Visit Catholic Relief Services for resources, including a 1-1.5 hour curriculum on Catholic Social Teaching of Dignity of the Human Person focusing on water-issues in the world, and a photo slideshow of communities dealing with a lack of adequate and safe water, among others.
Step 5 – Celebration: Lessons will close with a prayer, silent or communally, that gives glory to God.
Prayer for the Hungry (a mealtime prayer from Catholic Relief Services)
Bless us, O lord, and these Thy gifts:
- The gift of food, for us and for others;
- Of generosity, that when we have plenty none should go hungry the whole world over;
- The gift of hearts that grow in humility and compassions for each of your children who suffers misfortune;
- The gift of your love that extends our reach, and would not deny your gifts to another
Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
In the “Leave a Reply” area below, please suggest another activity people could do to address this Work of Mercy, share a story about someone who gives food or drink to others, or write your own prayer for people in need nutrition.