Imagine what a diocese would look like with kindness and prayers being intentionally done each week.
Imagine a diocese which is blanketed in the works of mercy.
Imagine the administrators of the local food bank when a whole town of Catholics show up with canned goods; imagine the faces of the children who will get a healthy meal tonight.
Imagine the looks on the faces of the folks at the local charitable clothes closet when Catholics show up with bags of clothes; imagine what it will feel like when you give away one piece of clothing for every new piece you receive; imagine how a man who is unemployed will feel when he receives a suit to wear for interviews.
Catholic Identity is an issue in mission dioceses all over the nation. How does one live out our Catholic Faith? Pope Francis has given us a simple way to begin building and living our Faith. Inspired by Pope Francis, the Office of Catechesis for the Diocese of Shreveport, LA created the #52weeksofmercy campaign. The concept of mercy is beautiful but how do we live it in a practical way? The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are essential to the Eucharistic mission. Many of us may already do them, but we don’t realize they are a way to live our Catholic faith.
Using a variety of media (bulletins, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Catholic Connection App and monthly magazine) a new challenge graphic is posted on every Tuesday. The challenges are practices which can be easily completed in a week by any and all age groups. We are also connecting the challenges to any important USCCB social justice weeks or liturgical seasons.
For example, the week of Dec 22, the work of mercy was #forgiveinjuries. So our challenge was #givewithoutgrudges: As you gather with friends and family let go of any grudges you may hold. Some of the other challenges are:
- Jan 5: #prayfortheimprisoned – Pray for refugees who have been displaced by violence and persecution #52weeksofmercy
- Jan 19: #comfortthesuffering – Attend daily Mass and pray for all those affected by abortion.
- Jan 26: #instructtheignorant – Happily help a child with homework or a co-worker with a project
Each of these name an important action of being Catholic, how to live it out and finally why. These are practical ways to live the message of the Eucharist, evangelize and begin to affect those around us. It is also an expression stewardship spirituality by fostering a sense of generosity, hospitality and recognition that all we have is gift and out of gratitude we give back.
Shelly Bole is Director of the Office of Catechesis for the Diocese of Shreveport, LA.