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Frequently Asked Questions
about
THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
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Q. 1. How many spiritual works of mercy are there?

A. There are six corporal works of mercy.

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Q. 2. What are they?

A. They are,

To feed the hungry,
To shelter the homeless,
To clothe the naked,
To visit the sick and imprisoned,
To bury the dead, and
To give alms to the poor.

Note: Some people separate "To visit the Sick and imprisoned" as two
different works of mercy. Therefore, the total is then 7.

To bury the dead was not an original work of mercy. Its origin
comes from the practice of the early Christian community, especially
in relation to the recovery and burial of the bodies of martyrs,
which were often thrown into the street.

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Q. 3. Does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say anything about the corporal works of mercy?

A. Yes it does. It states,

"The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. [Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3] Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. [Mt 25:31-46] Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:" [Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4]

"He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. [Lk 3:11] But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. [Lk 11:41] If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?" [Jas 2:15-16; 1 Jn 3:17] (C.C.C. # 2447)

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