This month we begin our discussion of the spiritual works of mercy. In this post, we focus on counseling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant. These two spiritual works of mercy seem to go hand in hand; similar on one level, but in actuality, different on another level. Yet, both of these works of mercy offer us opportunities to evangelize our faith.
Counseling the Doubtful
Everyone is at a different point on their faith journey. Some of us have progressed rather far along. Others have doubts. Those with doubts are not quite sure what to believe about God, religion, and faith in general. Those of us who have studied our faith have the responsibility to share our faith with others; whether it be as participants/sponsors in a Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program, or merely sitting around the dinner table. We are all called by Jesus to spread the Good News of His salvific power, with those who have questions and are in search of faith. When we do so, we are performing a spiritual work of mercy in counseling the doubtful.
Instructing the Ignorant
You might think that doubt comes from ignorance, and to a point you would be correct. That is where counseling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant cross paths. However, instructing the ignorant goes much deeper. It involves the use of apologetics, defined as “the defense or proof of Christianity” (Dictionary.com). It requires those of us knowledgeable in the teachings of the Church to set the record straight on exactly what Christ teaches, the basis for our information, and to highlight erroneous thinking not in alignment with Christ’s teachings; in essence to debunk erroneous beliefs not in accordance with Catholic Church teaching.
As a Catholic blogger, I see this spiritual work of mercy in action on many occasions on the internet. Many Christians are ignorant of the Catholic faith, and faith in general. For those of us knowledgeable of the tenets of Christianity, it is incumbent upon us to instruct the ignorant through our blogs. There are two exceptional bloggers who master this spiritual work of mercy with ease. I bring their websites to your attention because they will always inform you of Truth as the Church teaches: If I Might Interject and Spiritual Diabetes. I highly recommend that you take a look at these websites. However, it is not up to Catholic bloggers alone to instruct the ignorant. As with counseling the doubtful, Jesus calls each one of us to become knowledgeable of our faith, and to instruct the ignorant; to debunk erroneous thinking of the faith and to instruct people on the true teachings of Jesus. When we do so, we perform the spiritual work of mercy to instruct the ignorant.