Love God, Love People: Father Gaitley’s Works of Mercy Action Plans

The two great commandments of God go hand in hand, Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself..”

In Matthew Chapter 25, Jesus defines the Christian life as doing the works of mercy. “Everything a baptized person does every day should be directly or indirectly related to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy,” said Dorothy Day. As a bonus, psychologists say that serving others is the quickest way to end depression and despair.

Here are some suggestions for ways to accomplish the works, as grouped by Father Michael Gaitley in his book, You Did It To Me.

Feed the Hungry. Give Drink to the Thirsty.

  • Volunteer at the food bank in town.
  • Assist Catholic Charities in food drives.
  • Share my food with friends.
  • Share my drink with friends.
  • Help my mom or dad in the kitchen.
  • Pray every day for those without food.
  • Pray every day for those without clean water.

I was a Stranger, and You Welcomed Me. Give Shelter to the homeless. Bury the Dead. Bear Wrongs Patiently. Forgive offenses willingly.

  • Post compliments on Social Media.
  • Thank God for every specific kindness from strangers you remember.
  • Include someone new in conversation at school.
  • Invite someone new to an activity you are involved in.
  • Invite someone new to a birthday or other party.
  • Never gossip, and change the subject when others do.
  • Smile! At your family, your teachers, your acquaintances, old people at Church.
  • Pray for the homeless.
  • Pray for those who have lost a loved one.
  • Pray that the souls in Purgatory will reach heaven.
  • Pray for patience and practice it.
  • Forgive those who were mean to you, etc. Don’t act mean in return.

I was Naked and you clothed me. Instruct the ignorant. Counsel the doubtful. Comfort the afflicted.

  • Volunteer at the thrift store.
  • Help collect coats or other clothes for Catholic Charities.
  • See if you can donate old clothes.
  • Mention to others your gratitude for the good spiritual things you do (confirmation, confession, etc)
  • Know your faith. Read your YouCat or perhaps the Prove It! series.
  • Pray to know Jesus better, and pray for a chance to share his love.
  • As Our Lady of Fatima said: “Pray for the conversion of sinners.”
  • When you see someone sad, try to cheer them up.

‘I was Sick and you visited me.’

  • Organize a trip to a nursing home.
  • Volunteer at a nursing home.
  • Stop by your sick family member’s room to check on them and say you love them.
  • Make it a point to smile and be kind to your elderly relatives.
  • Write to your grandparents.
  • Get flowers for a friend who is under the weather.

‘I was in Prison and you came to me.’ Admonish sinners. Pray for the Living and the dead.

  • Pray for those in prison, that they will be visited by others — and by grace.
  • Pray for the victims of crimes.
  • Pray for the end of any and all unnecessary executions.
  • Pray for the persecuted Church.
  • Don’t join others who look at or do something wrong. Suggest something else, then go.
  • Pray that God will have mercy on sinners, of which we each are one.
  • Offer something up for souls in Purgatory or for others.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.