Third Meditation for the Second Week of Lent

The Seven Works of Mercy. Caravaggio, 1606.

Almsgiving is the third pillar of Lent. Strange sounding word, isn’t it? Only because of its uncommon usage. It is a classical construal of the expression, works of charity. If mortification is the soil of the soul, and prayer it’s stem, then charity is the blossom. The end of all our mortifications is to leave room for love of God. The aim of all our prayer is to fall deeply in love with God. But both mortification and prayer should lead us to acts of love. So it is that Our Savior remonstrates: “It is not the man who says Lord, Lord, that shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven; but He that doeth the will of my Father” (Mt. 7:21). Action is the syntax of love. After hearing “I love you”, the beloved asks, “show me”.

How do we show Our Savior that we love Him? By acts of love. Absent those acts, love is fake. Sterile. Barren. A façade. Those acts are ones that will make the beloved happy. Acts that I know the beloved desires. No different for God. Hence, carrying out the Holy Will of God. The first disclosure of God’s will is our vocation. It pleases Him when we are doing well what He has desired us to do from all eternity: being perfect fathers, husbands, sons, daughters, policemen. But he is even more pleased when we go further. One of the names of love is generosity.

Lent is repairing to our Baltimore Catechism and finding the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Read them, then decide to execute at least six of them, corresponding to the six weeks of Lent.

Clearly, not all of them will be germane to your state of life, but at least six will be. Remember that love is proved by deeds. So it is that St. John of the Cross teaches: “In the twilight of our lives, we shall be judged on love”.

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