When our country started to close in March due to COVID19, I admitted that the works of mercy were quite a distance from me. Sure, I’ve written a book on the subject, but everything else seemed more urgent!
Blessed to be financially and physically secure, we had to start a new life without normal activities and (painfully) without access to the sacraments. We had to prepare for college classes attended and taught from home and for special needs without our normal backups. Our close-knit Catholic family community was forced online.
As many of you can safely tell, our early uncertain weeks were spent in survival mode. To be honest, I was in complete funk until Easter. Slowly and prayerfully, however, we were able to regain a new rhythm. We didn’t start thinking about what we couldn’t, but what we could. The works of mercy became a cornerstone of the can do and were an opportunity for all of us to build community during this COVID19 season of our lives.
5 Ways to Bless Others and Build Community through the Works of Mercy during COVID19
1. Connect through prayer
At the beginning of the COVID19 blockage, our small Catholic community met twice a week to zoom in on the night prayer. When our church began to open up and small gatherings were allowed, we now meet regularly at a local Catholic cemetery to pray outside together.
As a family, we also took on the task of praying the Rosary and the Rosary of Mercy for our diocesan seminarians who were faced with an unusual learning situation. Use of these prints from Sweet Little OnesWe each sent them a message that they knew we had prayed for them. In return, we received some nice notes – these young men were so grateful that they were thought of. In addition to prayer, coloring was a great project to keep little hands busy with bad weather on some days.
2. Be an encourager
At the moment we all need a little extra hope and encouragement! Sidewalk chalking your neighborhood, church parking lot, local nursing home, or pretty much anything else is an easy way to spread some joy.
We may not be able to visit the sick and imprisoned directly, but we can encourage them through digital platforms, old-fashioned snail mail, and more.
3. Grow an additional row
Growing an additional row is actually a long tradition. The idea is to create your family garden and then create an additional row for the community. Grocery shelves often accept products, and even if your local grocery shelf doesn’t, everyone knows someone whose budget is currently tight. Grocery stores are still partially empty in many places, and groceries are a basic need that we all share.
Not to mention that gardening is also good for our own souls. The joke around our house is that mom will feed our entire community by the end of summer. I deliver eggs and products to the rectory once a week and hardly anyone comes to our house and leaves empty-handed.
4. Hyperlocalize your efforts
This is a great time to learn about the events and opportunities that are closest to your home and community. What does your next neighbor need? What’s going on in your neighborhood How can you help your community?
When the churches begin to reopen and restore sacramental life, there are many COVID19-related tasks that employees may need assistance with. Many jobs like induction may also require new, younger volunteers. Taking care of the sick definitely means preventing others from getting sick!
5. Focus on education
COVID19 gives us all the unique opportunity to pause and learn more about the needs of our specific community. It is also an opportunity to learn more about the works of mercy itself.
If you need ideas to get started, here is a picture book list for physical works of mercy. If you sign up for my newsletter (more information in this post), I will also send you an extended discussion guide. If you’re ready to dive deeper as a family, you should take a look Let’s talk about the service, a six-week family study to learn more about the works of mercy.
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