Faith & Life



I’ve been immensely this year by a community of likeminded Catholic mothers, one of whom recently recommended “The Corporal Works of Mommy,” a book by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, which (full disclosure) I have been too busy with four young children to sit down and read more than the introduction of, but which I offer as a recommendation to you today by way of a Mother’s Day gift.

The premise of this book revolves around the ways motherhood fulfils the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as laid out by our mother the Church. This idea has been such a gamechanger for me lately as I navigate the frustrations of motherhood.

In case you’re like me and don’t have them memorized, the seven Corporal and seven Spiritual works of Mercy, which are distilled from the teachings of Jesus, are:

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit the imprisoned
7. Bury the dead

1. Admonish the sinner
2. Instruct the ignorant
3. Counsel the doubtful
4. Bear wrongs patiently
5. Forgive offenses willingly
6. Comfort the afflicted
7. Pray for the living and the dead

Have you ever noticed, reading through those lists, how many of them are the very works of motherhood? I feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty every couple of hours (day and night with my nursing infant!) every single day.

I’ve only been a full-time stay-at-home mom for about a year and a half, and as I’ve transitioned into this very different lifestyle, I’ve tried stay very mindful of my role in my children’s lives. It can be a thankless job to change diapers and make mac and cheese over and over every day. I get less time to myself to think. I have to set aside my own desires constantly. It can feel like a whole lot.

But one thing that comforts me and keeps me grounded is St. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) which includes the intention to make your daily labors into a prayer. I have a hard time carving out the space for scripture study or silent meditation in my day to day, but it’s not beyond me to offer up my daily “slog” as a prayer for my family. Remembering that caring for my children is a work of mercy really has clicked something for me and made it easier to conceptualize my work as an offering to God and my children.

It calls me onwards too, as my oldest rapidly approaches the age of reason. I have no choice whether I’m going to clothe the naked today. I’ll either do it as a prayer or I’ll do it grumbling and losing my patience along the way. But I have to make an effort to be charitable when I instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinner. I have a toddler who thinks it’s funny to step on my toes, and it’s not always easy to bear wrongs patiently.

I think I’m going to put the Works of Mercy up on my wall as a sort of spiritual to-do list. Keeping them in mind is reframing everything that makes caring for my children frustrating.

Thank your mother today for being the light of Christ for your family, and next time you find yourself rocking a frightened child in the middle of the night or cleaning up a mess when they’re sick and you’re tired, think of these Works of Mercy, and offer up your irreplaceable work as a prayer for the souls God has entrusted to you.

Happy Mother’s Day!