Year of Mercy Patch: Understanding Works of Mercy

Girl Scouts earn their jubilee Year of Mercy patch from the Catholic committee on Girl Scouting

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is two thirds over in the Catholic Church, but I felt strongly that my girls take something with them to remember this event.

My Cadettes are taking on as one of their first activities the Year of Mercy patch from the Catholic committee on Girl Scouting. My hope isn’t that they can rattle off a list of must-dos as much as they grow in understanding that we are all in this together and even those little moments of lifting each other up can make a difference.

For those of you unfamiliar with the spiritual or corporal works of mercy,they are Biblically based concepts on caring for physical or spiritual needs of others. (Remember that quote, “Whatever you do to the last of my people, you do it to me.”)

Thing is, despite all the girls in my troop being raised Catholic, something was missing. It’s still tough to break through and remember as a preteen girl that there are others who may need your support, your listening ear, your prayers. Especially when it’s not obvious.

I found a great script online about thinking through the spiritual works of mercy, from helping a friend who has been bullied to praying for or visiting a sick grandparent. I even reminded the girls, if you help someone with a problem (like clothing for the homeless or food for a food pantry) and pray for them, you are doing both kinds of works!

This month I challenged the girls to do one spiritual and one corporal work of mercy. It seems like such a big endeavor, but really, a sea of little actions will do more good and establishing a pattern of empathy than a one-time act.

Next month, we’re completing the Year of Mercy patch by creating a painting  inspired by some of the Biblical quotes on God’s mercy and by acting out a skit, the Prodigal Daughter, that I found online.

We’ll also be visiting a cathedral to see the Holy Doors on the way back from our troop campout. At first, I questioned whether we’d be acceptable, but then I remembered all the homeless who sat in faith and hope at the Cathedral in town, and that no one turned them away. We can always sit in hope, and in peace.

Juliette  Lowe quote, faith in Scouting

Spiritual works of mercy for preteens

Need help making sense of the spiritual works of mercy to a preteen audience? Here are examples for each:

  • Counsel the doubtful: Listen to a friend who has a problem and give advice.
  • Instruct the ignorant: Help a classmate with a subject they are struggling with.
  • Admonish the sinner: Stand up to a person who is bullying another at school.
  • Comfort the sorrowful: Be there for a friend going through a difficult time.
  • Forgive injuries: Forgive a sibling when they upset you.
  • Bear wrongs patiently: It’s hard to accept things when they don’t feel fair. If you feel your parents or a teacher isn’t treating you fairly, don’t be quick to lose your cool.
  • Pray for the living and dead: Spread love to others through prayer.

Corporal works of mercy for preteens

The corporal works of mercy feel “big,” especially when you consider the directives. But these too can be achieved in small steps.

  • Feed the hungry: Share a snack with a friend.
  • Give drink to the thirsty: Bring an extra bottle of water to a sports practice in case someone forgets.
  • Clothe the naked: Share outgrown clothes with another family.
  • Visit the imprisoned: Prison doesn’t always mean jail. Be a friend to someone who may be alone at school.
  • Shelter the homeless: Donate items to a homeless shelter.
  • Visit the sick: Send a card or call a family member who is ill.
  • Bury the dead: Put flowers or US flags on a grave site.
    Spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
    Spiritual and corporal works of mercy


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