The Works of Mercy: An Antidote to the Mercilessness of the Day

The Works of Mercy: An Antidote to the Mercilessness of the Day

“With the passing years, I have come to see our work of hospitality at the Catholic Worker – this doing the works of mercy – as an ever-available antidote to despair, a practical pushback against the mercilessness of the day. A welcoming cup of coffee and pot of soup are tools for defying the trench mentality that sets in when belief in goodness wanes.” Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, a member of SS. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker in Worcester, Massachusetts, reflects on the Works of Mercy in a talk she gave at the 2022 Catholic Worker Gathering.

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Mid-Winter

Summary: An editorial reaffirming the Mystical Body where suffering or glory for one is shared by all. Notes suffering in Mexico, Spain, and Russia. Says the Catholic Manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount and the remedy is the practice of the physical and spiritual works of mercy. Change begins in our hearts. (DDLW #925). The Catholic Worker, January 1935, 4

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On Pilgrimage (December 1969)

Summary: Responds to those who critique their work as a band-aid for a cancer. Reaffirms the necessity for the works of mercy. Tidbits of life at the worker: getting out the paper, a trip to the sea, books arriving. Travels to PA and OH and reflects on the work of miners. Visits house in Cleveland and Detroit. Is moved by a Pentecostal prayer meeting. (DDLW #905) The Catholic Worker, December 1969, pp. 1,2,5

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On Pilgrimage (February 1969)

Summary: Highlights the struggle and despair of the times, recounts a conversation on faith with Mike Gold, an old Communist friend. Discourses on penance and voluntary suffering as acts of love that increase hope. Says we each have unique vocations to the works of mercy. (DDLW #894). The Catholic Worker, February 1969, pp. 2,5

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On Pilgrimage (June 1967)

Summary: Describes the flight of Catholics, clergy and laity, from North Vietnam and the work of Caritas International to get aid to all Vietnam. Says the work for peace involves the works of mercy. Recommends a book about the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. Relates his notion of “a mysterious forth man” to guardian angels. (DDLW #852). The Catholic Worker, June 1967, 1, 2, 8.

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On Pilgrimage (December 1959)

Summary: Tells of George Clements whose skeleton was found in the woods near Peter Maurin Farm. Paints a picture of the natural surroundings at the beach house. Describes the men’s house in the city, wishing they had yellow paint for the walls. Answers critics who say they have a “morbid preoccupation with misery.” (DDLW #759) The Catholic Worker, December 1959, 2, 6.