Stand by me

hands_Flickr_JBenningerBeginning with All Saints’ Day and ending with the final leaves falling off the trees before winter, November is a fitting reminder that death is part of the cycle of life. During this month, many churches invite their parishioners to put pictures of deceased loved ones on display. November—somber, gray, and serious—calls us to reflect on how we can bring comfort to those in our midst who have suffered a loss. “Comfort the sorrowful” is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy.

Bring comfort by being present. Maria, mother of two teens, recalls her father’s example: “My dad was big on the spiritual works of mercy. He used to say to us growing up, and he still does, ‘If somebody is in a bind, or sad, or in need of something and you don’t know what to do—do something! Pick up the phone, say something, reach out, act. Show up.’ That to me is what comforting the sorrowful is—it’s showing up for those around us and building each other up.” Continue reading

Moms, dads, and the spiritual works of mercy

Parenting offers daily opportunities to live the spiritual works of mercy, based on Christ’s teachings and Christian practice since the apostles.

Counsel the doubtful: When we take time for a short heart-to-heart to build up the confidence of a child who is filled with doubts about herself.

Instruct the ignorant: When we teach kids a new behavior (“’Stupid’ is not a word we use”) or a better way of doing something (“how to clean a drawer”).

Admonish the sinner: By calling our children on the wrongs they do, when we’re tempted to just let them pass.

Comfort the sorrowful: When we offer a long hug after a bad day.

Forgive injuries: When we teach children how to say, “I’m sorry,” and use the words, “I forgive you.”

Bear wrongs patiently: When we teach kids the right way to live yet patiently accept the limits of their stage in life.

Pray for the living and the dead: When we whisper prayers for our living children and those lost to miscarriage or death.

By Annemarie Scobey, from the archives of At Home with Our Faith newsletter