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The Seven Corporal Works of Charity

Angela McGhin - Mon, Mar 25th 2013


Pieter Brueghel the Younger  (1564 or 1565  – 10 October 1636)

The Seven Corporal Works of Charity 

1616 - 1618 ca. Oil on panel  44 x 57,50 cm

The Seven Christian Corporal Acts of Mercy are depicted

The scriptural text is  Matthew 25:35-6

To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to visit and ransom the captive (prisoners); to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; and to bury the dead.

The activities are not solitary but social

The works are a witness to fraternal charity and works of justice pleasing to God

On the eve of Lent, Pope Benedict XVI recalls:

"St Gregory the Great recalled in his Pastoral Rule that fasting is sanctified by the virtues that go with it, especially by charity, by every act of generosity, giving to the poor and needy the equivalent of something we ourselves have given up (cf. 19, 10-11). 

Lent, moreover, is a privileged period for prayer. 

St Augustine said that fasting and almsgiving are “the two wings of prayer” which enable it to gain momentum and more easily reach even to God. 

He said: 

“In this way our prayers, made in humility and charity, in fasting and almsgiving, in temperance and in the forgiveness of offences, giving good things and not returning those that are bad, keeping away from evil and doing good, seek peace and achieve it. On the wings of these virtues our prayers fly safely and are more easily carried to Heaven, where Christ our Peace has preceded us” (Sermon 206, 3 on Lent: PL 38, 1042)."

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