Encourage children to help others spiritually even as they learn the faith.
By Sara Jonckheere
Through the Spiritual Works of Mercy we can help our neighbors with their spiritual needs. While we often think of adults helping others on their faith journey, children can help as well — even though they are still learning the faith. The faith of a child is innocent and deep, so there is no reason that children can’t help other children (and maybe even adults) by the things they do and say.
This Spiritual Works of Mercy Sort not only helps students to learn the works of mercy and identify an image to represent each one, but it also gets them thinking about how they could help others on their own, with their family, and with their class.
Spiritual Works of Mercy sorting sheet (free download)
Provide a copy of the Spiritual Works of Mercy sorting sheet for each student.
Color and cut out the pictures and the words for each of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. They are already mixed up on the page before they are cut out in order to make matching a little more challenging.
Sort through and match the words to a picture that represents it. Once students find a match, have them glue the words in the first column and the pictures in the second column.
In the third column, have students write ideas for how they could help their neighbor through these Works of Mercy. This might involve a whole class discussion and brainstorming session. Try to get students to see that even though they are young, there are still things that they can do to help others.
Ideas for Ways to Live Out the Spiritual Works of Mercy
In a discussion with the class, talk about ways that they could help others by themselves, ways they could work with their family to help others, and ways they could work together as a class to help others. Some of these works of mercy might be tricky depending on the age of your students.
Help them to see that even kids can do these things at their own level and especially with other kids their own age. Get students thinking about situations on the playground, in their neighborhood, at their sporting events, and so on, where these might apply. Students can seek out opportunities to grow closer to God and their neighbor through the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
It may take a lot of prompting and ideas from you as the teacher to get the ideas flowing. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
Counseling the doubtful – show others about Christ through how you act and live your life, support friends who are struggling to believe in God by going to Mass or faith formation classes with them, answer questions for others about Christ, and share your testimony and relationship.
Instructing the ignorant – share your faith with others, be a part of a mission trip, help with a service project, invite someone to go to Mass with you and your family, learn more about your faith – be a lifelong learner, ask questions and talk about your faith to learn more.
Admonishing the sinner – do not judge others for what they’ve done wrong, but help them to do the right thing; correct others kindly; show others compassion; lead by example.
Comforting the sorrowful – listen and support others who are having a hard time, make a card for someone who could use some cheering up, spend time with someone who is struggling, make dinner for a family that is going through a difficult situation.
Forgiving injuries – forgive as Jesus forgives, do not hold grudges – let it go, apologize and mean it, ask for forgiveness, go to confession, pray.
Bearing wrongs patiently – talk about tips for solving problems with someone you are having a hard time with, such as being patient; walking away from the situation; taking a deep breath; praying about it; asking God for help and patience with the person or situation.
Praying for the living and the dead – make a list of prayer intentions, request Mass intentions for a family member who has died, request Mass intentions for a family or friend who could use extra prayers and support, pray for others, ask if there is anything specific you can pray for.
Don’t miss our companion activity: Corporal Works of Mercy Sort!
Sara Jonckheere is an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. She now creates digital curriculum and resources and shares teaching ideas on her blog, Sara J Creations.
All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email email@example.com.