Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mentally Rewriting the Corporal Acts of Mercy

Since I'm clearly not holy enough to merit having angels to do my housework like the beautiful St. Zita (or rich enough to hire a cleaning lady!) I've been working on my terrible mental attitude regarding "the daily grind" of Motherhood.

My husband came up with the idea of tying specific tasks to the Corporal Acts of Mercy. It has really helped!

Previously when I thought about "sheltering the homeless",

I got a mental picture of volunteering for "Habitat for Humanity." As the mother of four young kids (and another one the in belly) I'm unlikely to get a Saturday free to use a staple gun to help the homeless for approximately THE NEXT SEVENTEEN years, I'd get depressed. I'd think "I'm not really doing anything." But when my patient husband explained that every time I cleaned up clutter from the living room, I was creating a home for my own family and thus "sheltering the homeless", my heart expanded.

So here is my mental revision of the Seven Acts of Corporal Mercy, adjusted for a pregnant SAHM of very young children.

To feed the hungry;---- cooking AND grocery shopping AND cleaning out the yucky junk in the fridge

To give drink to the thirsty;--give milk to the toddler AND paying the water bill online

To clothe the naked--doing all tasks associated with the laundry

To shelter the Homeless--cleaning up the living room, paying the mortgage, etc.

To visit the sick--buying cough drops and making routine ped. appointments

(Still working on visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.)

When I have a task, if I take a few seconds and put it in the appropriate work of mercy slot, I find I have a much better attitude. I'm finding it easier to combine a life of prayer AND work, or "work as I pray."


  1. These two popped to mind for your missing acts of mercy. Visiting those in prison: waiting outside the closed bedroom door of a tantrumming child, ready to welcome him/her back to sanity when it's over. Burying the dead: not screaming when someone brings a dead bird, mouse, bat, bug, etc in the house, but providing a trowel and offering a corner of the yard or garden for the remains.

  2. I second KMS in that visiting the imprisoned would correlate to the correction of the children. Approaching a child who has done wrong with a "hate the sin and love the sinner" attitude.

    When my mom and I were taking care of children we would spend hours every night discussing "logical consequences" that would, in effect, give the message to the child "we love you, but what you did was wrong and you have to make it better."

    Perhaps burying the dead could also include respectfully disposing of old toys and "toys" (aka trash used as a toy)

  3. Wonderful re-framing, and something i need to do more of! Made me think of this poem, which I have taped up near my bathroom sink to ponder as I start my day:


  4. Bury the dead = remaining calm when a child carries in a squishy dead frog found on the back porch. Also refraining from running and screaming when attempting to chuck the said frog over the fence by carrying it on the end of a fly swatter and hurling it, only to have it HIT the fence and bounce back in your general direction.

  5. I had a priest tell me years ago that God said to feed His sheep to Peter. He said that God asks the same of me, but literally...feed them. Refill a sippy cup, serve breakfast lunch and dinner, then educate them by feeding them with God's word. I think we all have wonderful dreams of serving God in glorious ways...like St. Therese (missionary). However, like she was, we are usually called to serve in the more ordinary, less glamorous. You are building your path to heaven...keep it up!

  6. St. Zita had her housework done by angels??? Oh man, that is soooo cool. I know a young lady named Zita, after the Saint of course, and I can't wait to share this info with her!!

  7. How I miss you Anne Marie!!! Saint Zita was a servant who was always getting in trouble by her employers for her overwhelming acts of charity to the poor. One day a jealous servant turned her in for leaving her job in order to tend to the sick. When her angry bosses got to the kitchen they found 3 angels baking bread for the family. The bosses quietly shut the kitchen door and walked away without saying a word!