Each month during the Year of Mercy we will highlight one or two of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy. We receive so many blessings from the Lord, the outpouring of His mercy and love. We share that mercy and love with others in corporal, or material ways, as well as in spiritual ways. When St. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, one of the things he commended them to do was to "bear one another’s burdens." (6:2) Life, at times, has its difficulties – and it is important that we not face them alone, but help one another as we carry our crosses. Even Jesus, as He bore His Cross, had Simon help Him carry it, Veronica to wipe His face, the women of Jerusalem to simply weep with Him, and His mother’s constant presence. This is a Spiritual Work of Mercy. It is much easier to do something, but this mercy is a ministry of presence, as we accompany those experiencing the sufferings of life. When we comfort the afflicted, we extend our love to others in a tangible way. These are our brothers and sisters—and Jesus Christ invites us to share with them from the mercies that we have received.
St. Marianne Cope started working in a factory at the age of 8 to support her family when her father became invalid. At the age of 24, with her siblings grown, she was finally able to join the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis in New York. She became a teacher at a school for immigrants, herself coming to this country from Germany when she was one. She later worked to found two hospi-tals to care for the sick. She then became the Superior of the Order, and at that time received a request from King Kalakaua to come and aid the lepers in Hawaii. He had been turned down by 50 other orders. She herself set out with six others and founded several hospitals, and also cared for the orphans left behind. With no known cure, Mother Marianne’s primary comfort was that of her words and her presence, as she loved them as she loved Jesus Himself. When we comfort the afflicted, like Saint Marianne Cope, we are comforting Jesus Himself.