The works of mercy are all the works of almsgiving or "charity." According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are:
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.
Rocco Palmo quotes Pope Francis:
"We cannot follow Jesus on the way of charity if we don't love those around us first of all. It's necessary to do the works of mercy with mercy! The works of charity with charity!"
Which is probably why I don't often find instructing the ignorant and admonishing the sinner brings me much peace.
So here's the question of the day. If you can't summon up mercy and charity in your heart as the reason to perform any of these works...
...if you have some other reason...
...is it better to try to fake it and perform them anyway, or is it better to refrain?