Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mercy with and for Our Children

The final two questions we considered at our January Potluck Breakfast for Catholic Homeschooling Moms were the following:

 How do I give mercy to others?

This is clearly important, for Luke says, “Be merciful just as your heavenly Father is merciful.” (Luke 6) We are called to show mercy to our husband, our children, our family, our friends, our neighbors, and even strangers. I think the key is to first accept the person and to love that person as God made them here and now, rather than try to change them. We forgive and ask for forgiveness often in our family, but my bigger fault is in not trying to understand what is in the heart of each person and not demonstrating empathy and compassion before reacting to whatever situation or behavior arises.

Then, of course, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are key. These give us concrete ways to relieve another’s misery, to be compassionate towards their unhappiness. We can, do, and should show these works of mercy every day in our families and communities. This is a sort of to-do list for mercy, and you know I love to-do lists!

The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:
ü  To feed the hungry;
ü  To give drink to the thirsty;
ü  To clothe the naked;
ü  To harbour the harbourless;
ü  To visit the sick;
ü  To ransom the captive;
ü  To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:
ü  To instruct the ignorant;
ü  To counsel the doubtful;
ü  To admonish sinners;
ü  To bear wrongs patiently;
ü  To forgive offences willingly;
ü  To comfort the afflicted;
ü  To pray for the living and the dead.

As a homeschooler, how do I teach my children about mercy?

I think the primary and best method is by example. To be a disciple requires a living example. So just as Jesus was a living example for his disciples, we must be the living example of mercy for our children. The beauty of homeschooling is the constant opportunity to build relationships with our children, to demonstrate mercy and walk with them on the Christian journey.

We also, of course, can give them direct instruction in mercy. The document I previously shared called Celebrating the Year of Mercy in My Home is full of links I am using this year to teach my children about mercy, and there are tons of resources online for teaching the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to children, as well.

Finally, for me, teaching mercy is simply being intentional and mindful about such things. I ask myself periodically: What do I want my children to know? Be? Do? And how do our daily lives reflect those goals? It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the burdens of daily life that I neglect simple and important lessons I could be teaching along the way.

Want some more ideas? Sign up for the Faces of Mercy Catholic Conference 4 Moms here! This online conference gives you unlimited access to over 20 quality presentations for the Lenten season, including a LIVE presentation this Saturday, February 20 by one of my favorite Catholic homeschooling moms, Jennifer Fulwiler! I've decided to highlight this excellent resource on the blog this week, because it fits in so well with our breakfast conversation from last month and is such a flexible, affordable, inspiring conference for moms! And you can get $4.00 off by entering my affiliate coupon code "mother" (any affiliate funds I earn will be used to offset the cost of our breakfast group's conference access, thanks)

What's one way you and your children can show mercy to others today?

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