Living the Works of Mercy

Today is the feast day of Saint Katharine Drexel, one of only two recognized American-born saints. I find her life fascinating, particularly in light of today’s readings.

Katharine was born in Philadelphia in 1858 and raised as a young heiress. Although wealthy, her parents were known for their philanthropy and her family was active in helping the less fortunate. This same generous spirit lived in Katharine. She had a great love of God and neighbor, most especially for American Indians and African Americans. Her heart was moved by the plight of the underprivileged and victims of injustice.

Katharine worked tirelessly helping—physically and financially—numerous missions in the United States. After her father’s death, Katharine and her two sisters met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send some religious to the missions they were funding. He suggested that Katharine undertake the missionary work herself.

After prayer and spiritual direction, Katharine decided to leave behind the marriage proposals and her life as an heiress and enter the religious life. Her decision sent shock waves through the social circles of Philadelphia.

Katharine gave her life and her fortune to help others and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who were dedicated to working towards the betterment of American Indians and African Americans.

What a profound example of the words of the First Reading!

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.

Katharine did more than just hear those words. She let them take root into her soul until they spurred her into action. I want to be like that! Too often something stirs in my heart and I feel moved to action but then I falter and my resolve dies away. Instead, I want to follow Katharine’s example. I want to hear the Lord’s words and bring them to life in my actions and my attitude.

Lent is the perfect time to work on this together . . . to make our sacrifices and offerings to God works of mercy. We have daily opportunities to live it, whether we are dealing with a loved one, a child, a friend, a coworker, or a stranger. May we act with love, respect and mercy, especially this Lent.

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What act of mercy can you offer to God today?

Bobbi Rol is a wife, a mama of four and a blogger learning to love God in the midst of dishes, laundry and swinging light sabers. You can find out more about her here.

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