Chapter 14: Tuck-Pointing, Painting, and Siding: Works of Mercy and Social Justice {Lawn Chair Catechism}

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Welcome to this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism! We’re reading Joe Paprocki’s best-selling book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe. We’re taking it one chapter at a time all summer long.

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We provide first aid for people when they have an urgent physi- cal need. Some physical needs that people have are ongoing and are not the result of a medical emergency. Some people are hungry; some are without proper clothing and housing. Others are without jobs and income. Many people have emotional and spiritual needs that require tending. Some people are lonely. Some are grieving. Others are depressed, while still others are in need of forgiveness.

The Catholic Church identifies some specific actions that we can take that, in a sense, provide physical and spiritual first aid to those in need. We call these the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Remember how Sesame Street used to have a featured called “One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)”? For example, they would show four plates of cookies—three of them with two cookies and one with three. The goal was to teach children about how to detect patterns. Some things belong and are in right relationship with each other. Others do not belong and are not in right relationship with the other objects.

All human beings are called to live in right relationship with one another. Sometimes, however, things prevent us from living in right relationship with one another. When we strive to remove these obstacles so that people can live in right relationship with one another, we call this social justice. 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. Why do you think it is important for Christians to perform good works?
  2. If doing good works cannot earn us salvation, why do we perform them?
  3. Of the Corporal Works of Mercy, which do you think are most needed in society today? Which do you have the most opportu- nity to provide for others?
  4. Of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, which do you think are most needed in society today? Which do you have the most opportu- nity to provide for others?
  5. How do you think the average individual Catholic can work for social justice?
  6. Of the principles of Catholic social teaching, which do you feel most urgently called to strive for?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions. You can also share your blog post by linking up below.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 15: Measure Twice, Cut Once: Conscience and Moral Decision Making. For the complete reading schedule and information about this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism, visit the Lawn Chair Catechism page.

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Copyright 2014 Sarah Reinhard

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