Just Start

The eleven videos in this series on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, offered each month during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, can now be accessed on a single page.

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"Just Start. Ways to help people" is the title of an eleven-video series whose aim is to highlight the importance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by presenting the testimonies of more than 100 people from 12 different countries. The series, produced for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, seeks to help make Pope Francis' desire a reality: that we Christians may contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.

The videos of the series

1. Work for Free

2. Feeding Body and Soul

3. Enlarge your Family

4. Learn to Forgive

5. Open Doors "Assisting Refugees"

6. Share What You Know

7. Be Close to the Suffering

8. "Be with them to the end"

9. Offer Work Opportunities

10. Moving Ahead Little by Little

11. Accompany Those in Prison

1. Work for Free

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In various parts of the world, many people dedicate hours of work as free service for those who can’t pay for it. In this video with English subtitles we meet a plastic surgeon in Brazil and a German municipal official.

Questions for dialogue

— What specific ways of helping others do we see in the video? Can you relate them to some of the works of mercy?

— What reasons might people have for providing this type of assistance?

— How might this effort influence others?

— What does Dr. Luiz Mario mean when he says: "It’s an encounter of Jesus Christ with Jesus Christ"?

— What does Norbert means by saying that, in helping others, he is also offering a testimony of faith?

Some specific suggestions for action

— Provide a professional service free of charge to people who can’t pay you back.

— Share your talents and know-how with those who need assistance.

— Pray for the people you meet in your professional work.

— Assist the sick and needy by your help, your company, and your prayer.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture

— But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him (Lk 10: 33-34).

— That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons (Mk 1: 32-34).

— But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

Quotes from Pope Francis

— Doing good without expecting anything in return. This is what the Father did with us and we must do the same. Do good and carry on! (Audience, 15 September 2014).

— In order to be “imitators of Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 11:1) with a poor or sick person, we must not be afraid to look him in the eye and to draw near with tenderness and compassion, and to touch him and embrace him (Angelus, 15 February 2015).

Serving. What does this mean? Serving means giving an attentive welcome to a person who arrives. It means bending over those in need and stretching out a hand to them, without calculation, without fear, but with tenderness and understanding, just as Jesus knelt to wash the Apostles’ feet. Serving means working beside the neediest of people, establishing with them first and foremost human relationships of closeness and bonds of solidarity (Address, 10 September 2013).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria

— How I like that word: service! To serve my King and, through Him, all those who have been redeemed by his Blood. I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make Him known and loved (Christ is Passing By, no. 182).

— Do not pass by a neighbor’s affliction with indifference. That person—a relative, a friend, a colleague... someone you don’t know—is your brother. Remember the Gospel story you have heard so often with sadness: not even the relatives of Jesus trusted Him. Make sure the scene is not repeated ( Furrow, no. 251).

— Children. The Sick. — As you write these words, don’t you feel tempted to use capitals? The reason is that in children and in the sick a soul in love sees Him (The Way, no. 419).

2. Feeding Body and Soul

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People in Russia and the Philippines are shown fighting material and spiritual hunger.

Questions for dialogue

— What do you see as the driving force behind getting projects like these started? What role do the Christian virtues of faith and charity play in getting them started and in sticking with them?

— Why are people happy to volunteer for projects like these?

— How can those who receive this help come to form part of a “virtuous circle”?

— Is hunger still a real problem in this country?

Some specific suggestions for action

— Pray for those who are suffering from hunger and malnourishment.

— Give sincere thanks to God before meals.

— Try not to waste food at home.

— Contribute to those who need it any leftover food (at home, in restaurants, after parties, etc.).

— Help out in some way (with your work, time, money, prayer, etc.) in projects to fight hunger and malnourishment.

— Find out about projects in your neighborhood for distributing food to the needy.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture

And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward (Mt 10:42)

Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat” (Lk 9:12-13).

And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which theLord has given you to eat” (Ex 16:14-15).

— I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn 6:48-51).

Quotes from Pope Francis

— The poverty of the world is a scandal. In a world where there is such great wealth, so many resources for giving food to everyone, it is impossible to understand how there could be so many hungry children, so many children without education, so many poor people! Poverty today is a cry. We must all think about whether we can become a little poorer. This is something we must all do. How I can become a little poorer to be more like Jesus, who was the poor Teacher (Address, 7 June 2015).

— There was a time when our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to be accustomed to excess and to the daily waste of food, whose value, which goes far beyond mere financial parameters, we are no longer able to judge correctly. Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry! I ask everyone to reflect on the problem of the loss and waste of food, to identify ways and approaches which, by seriously dealing with this problem, convey solidarity and sharing with the underprivileged (Audience, 5 June 2013).

— Jesus satiates not only material hunger, but the most profound one, the hunger for the meaning of life, the hunger for God. Before the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we ourselves do? Complaining doesn’t resolve anything, but we can offer the little that we have, like the lad in the Gospel. We surely have a few hours of time, certain talents, some skills.... Who among us doesn’t have “five loaves and two fish” of his own? We all have them! If we are willing to place them in the Lord’s hands, they will be enough to bring about a little more love, peace, justice and especially joy in the world (Angelus, 26 July 2015).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria

— Among the ingredients of your meal include that “most delicious” one, mortification (The Forge, no. 783).

— The good things of the earth, monopolized by a handful of people; the culture of the world, confined to cliques. And, on the outside, hunger for bread and education. Human lives—holy, because they come from God—treated as mere things, as statistics. I understand and share this impatience. It stirs me to look at Christ, who is continually inviting us to put his new commandment of love into practice (Christ is Passing By, no. 111).

— If we work well, sanctifying our tasks, and if we teach others to find God in their work; if we put great care into it and don’t work in a sloppy way, learning how to work as a team, shoulder to should with our fellow men, how many material miracles we will see! We will help bring it about that there is less hunger in the world, less ignorance, less poverty, less illness…. (7 April 1970).

Links to other resources

Peru: Fighting the "Vicious Cycle of Poverty"

3. Enlarge your Family

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Pope Francis encourages us to "never be a family that is closed in on itself."

Questions for dialogue

— What do Thomas, in Singapore, and Annemarie and Mathias, in Austria, have in common?

— How have they “enlarged their family”?

— Why does Sara, a volunteer in an orphanage in the Philippines, say that anyone can help out and there is no need to be a professional to help others?

— What people in today’s society stand in need of receiving the warmth of a family? How can we help them?

Suggestions for action

— Pray each day for your family and for all the families in the world.

— Be more attentive to those who need someone to listen to them or to accompany them.

— Try to spread joy and optimism to those around you.

— Become informed about nearby shelters for children, for the elderly, etc., and if possible donate your time and company to those living here.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you (Is 66:12-13).

— Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor 1:3-4).

— If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (Jas 2:15-16).

— Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Heb 13:2).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— A family that is closed in on itself is like a contradiction of the promise that gave birth to it and enables it to live. Never forget: the identity of a family is always a promise that expands, and it expands to the whole family and also to all of humanity (Audience 21 October 2015).

— Jesus made a great promise to us: “I will not leave you orphaned” (Jn 14:18), because he is the way to go, the teacher to listen to, the hope that does not disappoint. How can we not feel a burning desire in our heart and say to all, especially the youth: “You are not orphans! Jesus Christ revealed to us that God is Father and wants to help you, because he loves you.” This is the profound meaning of Christian initiation: being born in the faith means proclaiming that we are not orphans (Address, 16 June 2014).

— By looking at Mary, we discover the most beautiful and most tender face of the Church; and by looking at the Church, we recognize the sublime features of Mary. We Christians are not orphans, we have a mama, we have a mother, and this is great! We are not orphans! The Church is mother, Mary is mother (Audience, 3 September 2014).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— The Master passes very close to us, again and again. He looks at us... And if you look at him, if you listen to him, if you don’t reject him, He will teach you how to give a supernatural meaning to everything you do... Then you too, wherever you may be, will sow consolation and peace and joy (Way of the Cross, 8th station, no. 4).

— Don’t forget that our Lord has a special love for little children and those who become as little children (The Way, no. 872).

— What a joy it is to contemplate Jesus in Bethany! Friend of Lazarus, Martha and Mary! It is there that he goes to regain his strength when tired. There Jesus finds a home, and people who appreciate him. Some people, when they draw close to the Tabernacle, find Bethany there. May it be so for you! Bethany is trust, the warmth of a family, intimacy. Specially beloved friends of Jesus (Meditation, 6 November 1940).

4. Learn to Forgive

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In this video, various people talk about their struggle to forgive others, and the peace that doing so brings into their life.

Questions for dialogue

— Why might the people in this video find it hard to forgive?

— How have they overcome these difficulties?

— Why is prayer and the reception of the sacraments important for someone who needs to ask for forgiveness and forgive others?

— Why does forgiveness lead to peace and joy?

Suggestions for action

— Often ask God for forgiveness by making acts of contrition.

— Go regularly to confession, a source of grace and forgiveness.

— Ask our Lord for the grace to always be ready to forgive, both in big things and little ones, no matter how difficult it is, and that he remove from your heart any rancor, resentment or desire for revenge.

— Pray frequently for those who have offended you or those you have offended.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— Thou art a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Neh 9:17).

— “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22).

— “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

— Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us (Mt 6:12).

— … if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Col3:13).

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice,and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Eph 4:31-32).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— I now ask of you one thing. In silence, let's all think... everyone think of a person with whom we are annoyed, with whom we are angry, someone we do not like. Let us think of that person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and let us become merciful with this person (Angelus, 15 September 2013).

— We find it difficult to forgive others. Lord, grant us you mercy so that we learn to always forgive (Tweet, 29 November 2013).

— God always forgives! He never grows tired of forgiving. It is we who grow tired of asking for forgiveness (Homily, 23 January 2015).

— It is in the heart of the family that we learn how to forgive, because we have the certitude of being understood and helped whatever our mistakes may have been (Homily, 27 December 2015).

— Christ’s love fills our hearts and enables us to always forgive (Tweet, 2 May 2015).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— Put yourself always in your neighbor’s shoes. You will then see the various issues or problems calmly. You will not get annoyed. You will be understanding. You will make allowances and will correct people when and as required. And you will fill the world with charity (The Forge, no. 958).

— Those who zealously keep a “list of grudges” show themselves to be very narrow-minded souls! Such poor wretches are impossible to live with (Furrow, no. 738).

— Forgiveness. To forgive with one’s whole heart and with no trace of a grudge will always be a wonderfully fruitful disposition to have! That was Christ’s attitude on being nailed to the Cross: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” From this came your salvation and mine (Furrow, no. 805).

Links to other resources

Novena for Forgiveness

Blessed Alvaro: "Learning to Forgive"

5. Open Doors "Assisting Refugees"

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In this video, people in Austria and Germany speak about their efforts to assist refugees seeking a new home in their country.

Questions for dialogue

— What difficulties do the immigrants in the video face?

— What are some of the other problems immigrants and refugees confront today?

— How are the immigrants in the video being helped?

— What do you think motivates those seeking to assist the immigrants?

Suggestions for action

— Pray for those who have had to flee their homeland.

— Find out more about the situation of immigrants in your country.

— Consider ways you personally can assist immigrants or help out in initiatives organized by your parish or civil entities with this aim.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Lk 2:7).

— He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me (Mt 10:40).

— Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebr 13:2).

— He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt (Deut 10:18-19).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— At the heart of the Gospel of mercy the encounter and acceptance by others are intertwined with the encounter and acceptance of God himself. Welcoming others means welcoming God in person! (Message, September 12, 2015).

I was a stranger … each one of you, refugees who knock at our doors, has the fact of God, and is the flesh of Christ. Your experience of pain and of hope reminds us that we are all strangers and pilgrims on this Earth, welcomed by someone with generosity and without deserving this (Message, April 19, 2016).

— Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved. They are an occasion that Providence gives us to help build a more just society, a more perfect democracy, a more united country, a more fraternal world (Message, August 5, 2013).

— There is a risk of passively accepting certain forms of behaviour and of not being shocked by the sad reality surrounding us. We become accustomed to violence, as though it were a predictable part of the daily news. We become accustomed to brothers and sisters sleeping on the streets, who have no roof to shelter them. We become accustomed to refugees seeking freedom and dignity, who are not received as they ought to be. We become accustomed to living in a society which thinks it can do without God (Audience, March 5, 2014).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— Jesus on the cross, with his heart overflowing with love for men, is such an eloquent commentary on the value of people and things that words only get in the way. Men, their happiness and their life, are so important that the very Son of God gave himself to redeem and cleanse and raise them up (Christ is Passing By, no. 165).

— Just as Christ “went about doing good” throughout Palestine, so must you also spread peace in your family circle, in civil society, on the job, and in your cultural and leisure activities. This will be the best proof that the kingdom of God has reached your heart (Christ is Passing By, no. 166).

— A man or a society that does not react to suffering and injustice and makes no effort to alleviate them is still distant from the love of Christ’s heart (Christ is Passing By, no. 167).

Personal stories of refugees

Mariam: Living among Christians in Lebanon

The "Our Father" in the Language Christ Spoke

Bassam and Raghad: "Welcome Home"

6. Share What You Know

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In this video, people in Germany, the U.S. and Chile talk about their efforts to pass on their knowledge and experience to those who are younger.

Questions for dialogue

— Do you agree with Marina that when you’ve acquired valuable knowledge, it’s only natural to want to share it with others?

— What motivates Anna-Lena and Clara to help younger children do their homework?

— Why is it worthwhile making the effort to help others become better educated?

Suggestions for action

— Share your knowledge and skills with other people.

— Seek ways to help your friends and acquaintances to get to know the Church’s teachings better, also through your example.

— If you are older, dedicate time to passing on to those who are younger the wisdom that experience gives.

— If you are younger, help those who are older to learn how to use the new technology (Internet, electronic devices, etc.).

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Mt 7:28-29).

— Make me to know thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long (Ps 25:4-5).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom (Col 3:16).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— To educate means to “draw out.” It is the capacity to draw forth the best from one’s heart. It is not just about teaching some technical skill or imparting ideas, but is about rendering both ourselves and the world around us more human. And it refers in a special way to work (Address, January 16, 2016).

— Educating is a great vocation: as Saint Joseph trained Jesus in the art of carpentry, you too are called to help the younger generations to discover the beauty of truly human work (Address, January 16, 2016).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— You have had the good fortune to find real teachers, authentic friends, who have taught you everything you wanted to know without holding back. You have had no need to employ any tricks to steal their knowledge, because they led you along the easiest path, even though it had cost them a lot of hard work and suffering to discover it. Now, it is your turn to do the same, with one person, and another— with everyone(Furrow, no. 733).

Coepit facere et docere—Jesus began to do and then to teach. You and I have to bear witness with our example, because we cannot live a double life. We cannot preach what we do not practise. In other words, we have to teach what we are at least struggling to put into practice (The Forge, no. 694).

— Teacher: your keenness to know and practise the best method of helping your students to acquire earthly knowledge is undeniable. But don't forget that you must have the same keenness to know and practise the Christian spiritual life, which is the only method of helping them and you to be better (The Way, no. 344).

Links to some related articles and videos

In the Heart of the Bronx

50th Anniversary of Midtown-Metro

In the Inner-city of Chicago

7. Be Close to the Suffering

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People from the U.S., Germany, Brazil and Chile talk about their efforts to assist those who are suffering.

Suggestions for action

— Seek information about institutions that care for the elderly, the sick, children or immigrants, and to the extent possible provide your personal assistance and prayer.

— Look for specific people around you in need of special care, affection or good advice, and try to find ways to serve them.

— Care for a sick person in your home with a true spirit of service: preparing meals, accompanying them, showing affection, etc.

— Consider how to explain to a sick person, with refinement, the sanctifying and redemptive value of their circumstances: their prayer, before God, has immense value.

— In your personal prayer, consider how you treat those you live with you, seeking ways to be more affectionate and to offer appropriate advice.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor 1:3-4).

— I myself am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another (Rom 15:14).

— Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:24-25).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— We cannot be messengers of God’s comfort if we do not first feel the joy of being comforted and loved by Him. This happens especially when we hear his Word, the Gospel, which we should carry in our pocket: do not forget this! The Gospel in your pocket or purse, to read regularly. And this gives us comfort: when we abide in silent prayer in his presence, when we encounter Him in the Eucharist or in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. All this comforts us (Angelus, 7 December 2014).

— The Lord does not only speak to us in the intimacy of the heart; yes, he speaks to us, but not only there; he also speaks to us through the voice and witness of the brethren. It is truly a great gift to be able to meet men and women of faith who, especially in the most complicated and important stages of our lives, help us to bring light to our heart and to recognize the Lord’s will! (Audience, 7 May 2014).

— Always seek to make your gaze one of welcome, offering a helping hand that elevates and sustains, a word of comfort, a tender embrace. Do not become discouraged because of difficulties and fatigue, but continue to give of your time, your smile and your love to your brothers and sisters who are in need. May every sick and frail person see in your faces the face of Jesus, and may you come to see Christ’s own flesh in every suffering person (Address, 9 November 2013).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— I have a sick person waiting for me, and I have no right to make someone who is sick wait, since that person is Christ (November 1972).

— Those well-timed words, whispered into the ear of your wavering friend; the helpful conversation that you managed to start at the right moment; the ready professional advice that improves his university work; the discreet indiscretion by which you open up unexpected horizons for his zeal. This all forms part of the “apostolate of friendship” (The Way, no. 973).

— The spread of social remedies against the plagues of suffering or poverty ... can never replace (because these social remedies are on another plane) the effective tenderness, both human and supernatural, of our direct personal contact with our neighbor: with that poor person in a nearby neighborhood, with that other sick person who is suffering in an immense hospital; or with that other person, perhaps rich, who is in need of a bit of affectionate conversation, a Christian friendship to ease their loneliness (Letter, 24 October 1942).

— When you are ill, offer up your sufferings with love, and they will turn into incense rising up in God’s honour, and making you holy (The Forge, no. 791).

8. "Be with them to the end"

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People from Russia, Brazil and Colombia speak about their efforts to assist the dying.

Suggestions for action

— Pray for the sick, for the dying, and for those who have died and their families and friends.

— When the occasion arises, try to console and accompany someone who has suffered the death of a loved one.

— With your guidance and help, if required, try to make it possible for those who are near death to receive the anointing of the sick.

— Make regular visits to a grave site, especially of family members and friends, and offer suffrages for the dead.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:25-26).

— But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess 4:13-14).

— If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living (Rom 14:8-9).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— The Church invites constant prayer for her own loved ones stricken with suffering. There must never be a lack of prayer for the sick. But rather, we must pray more, both personally and as a community (Audience, June 10, 2015).

— Within the realm of family bonds, the illness of our loved ones is endured with an “excess” of suffering and anguish. It is love that makes us feel this “excess.” So often for a father or a mother, it is more difficult to bear a son or daughter’s the pain than one’s own. The family, we can say, has always been the nearest “hospital” (Audience, June 10, 2015).

— Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are the testimony of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death does not have the last word on human existence, for man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment in God (Angelus, November 2, 2014).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— To die is a good thing. How can anyone with faith be, at the same time, afraid to die? But as long as the Lord wants to keep you here on earth, it would be cowardice for you to want to die. You must live, live and suffer and work for Love: that is your task (The Forge, no. 1037).

— You became very serious when you heard me say: I accept death whenever God wants it, the way he wants it, where he wants it; and at the same time I think it is too easy to die early, because we should want to work many years for him, and because of him, in the service of others (The Forge, no. 1039).

— We do not belong to ourselves. Jesus Christ has bought us with his Passion and with his Death. We are his life. From now on there is only one way of living on earth: to die with Christ so as to rise again with Him, to the point that we can say with the Apostle: It is not I that live, it is Christ that lives in me (Gal 2:20) (The Way of the Cross, 14th station).

Links to other resources

Audio of Prelate: Burying the Dead

9. Offer Work Opportunities

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In this video, people from Uruguay, Italy and the Philippines talk about initiatives that seek to help provide opportunities for finding work, an essential element of human dignity.

Suggestions for action

— Pray for those without a steady job.

— When receiving news about job openings, consider whether this information could be passed out to relatives, friends or acquaintances out of work.

— Try to provide small service to people or families suffering from unemployment.

— While carrying out your job, try to find time to put your talents to the service of others.

— Offer God your work, asking him for specific intentions.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me.In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:34-35).

— And [Paul] went to see them; and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers (Acts 18:2-3).

— But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work (1 Thess 5:12-13).

— Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life (Jn 6:27).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— Work is more than earning one’s sustenance. Work gives us dignity. Whoever works has a special dignity, the dignity of a person (Homily, 1 May 2013).

— Commitment to work and the spiritual life, in the Christian conception, are not at all at odds with one another. It is important to understand this properly! Prayer and work can and must be in harmony (Audience, 19 August 2015).

— Work, in its many forms, is proper to the human person. It expresses the dignity of being created in the image of God. Thus, it is said that work is sacred (Audience, 19 August 2015).

— It makes me sad to see people without work, who don’t find work and don’t have the dignity of bringing bread home. And I rejoice greatly when I see governments go to great lengths to find jobs and try to see to it that everyone has work. Work is sacred, work gives dignity to a family. We have to pray that no family is left without work (Audience, 19 August 2015).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— Work is one of the highest human values and the way in which men contribute to the progress of society. But even more, it is a way to holiness (Conversations, no. 24).

— Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary work and you will have sanctified it (The Way, no. 359).

— As you go about your work, doing your job in society, each of you can and should turn your occupation into a real service. Your work should be done well, mindful of others’ needs, taking advantage of all advances in technology and culture. Such work fulfils a very important function and is useful to the whole of humanity, if it is motivated by generosity, not selfishness, and directed to the welfare of all, not our own advantage, if it is filled with the Christian sense of life (Christ is Passing By, no. 166).

— Before God, no occupation is in itself great or small. Everything gains the value of the Love with which it is done (Furrow, no. 487).

Links to other resources

15 articles on sanctifying work

10. Moving Ahead Little By Little

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Small gestures and steps can be a good way to begin showing mercy to others.

Suggestions for action

— Try to pinpoint the greatest needs, both material and spiritual, of those around you, and look for possible ways to solve them.

— Get information about the various social initiatives, big or small, near you and, in so far as possible, dedicated your time, or knowledge, or financial help, etc.

— Donate clothing in good condition to those who need it, or leftover food at home or provided by nearby restaurants.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom 12:6-8).

— And the multitudes asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” (Lk 3:10-11).

— And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— How can we, therefore, be witnesses of mercy? We do not think that it is done with great efforts or superhuman actions. No, it is not so. The Lord shows us a very simple path, made by small actions which, nonetheless, have great value in his eyes (Audience, 12 October 2016).

— There are also, however, seven otherworks of mercy called “spiritual,” which pertain to other equally important needs, especially today, because they touch the person’s soul, and often create the greatest suffering (Audience, 12 October 2016).

— A mother once told me that she wanted to teach this to her children and she told them to help and feed those who were hungry. She had three. And one day at lunch—the dad was out working, she was there with her three young children, 7, 5 and 4 years old, more or less—and there came a knock at the door: there was a man who asked for something to eat. And the mama told him: “Wait a moment.” She went back inside and told her children: “There’s a man there asking for something to eat, what can we do?” “Let’s give him something, Mama, let’s give him something!” Each of them had a beefsteak and fried potatoes on their plate. “Very well”—the mother said—“let’s take half from each of you, and we’ll give him half of the beefsteak from each of you.” “Oh, no, Mom, that’s not right!” “That’s how it is, you have to give some of yours.” And this is how this mom taught her children to give food from their own plate. This is a fine example that really helped me. “But I don’t have any leftovers...” “Give some of your own!” This is what Mother Church teaches us (Audience, 10 September 2014).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— Would you like to know a secret to happiness? Give yourself to others and serve them, without waiting to be thanked (The Forge, no. 368).

— If we were to give in to comfort, it would be like telling Jesus, ‘Look, my time is mine, not yours. I don’t want to tie myself down to looking after your vineyard’ (Friends of God, no. 48).

— Ask our Lord to give us a good heart, capable of having compassion for other people’s pain. Only with such a heart can we realize that the true balm for the suffering and anguish in this world is love, charity (Christ is Passing By, no. 167).

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Social Initiatives section

11. Accompany Those in Prison

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Colombian prisoners talk about the necessities of people in jail and about the meaning that receiving a visit or some help has for them. Volunteers in penitentiaries also give their testimony. Finally, Nicola and Alik, from Russia, describe an initiative that seek to diminish the sense of loneliness among those in prison.

Suggestions for action

— Find out about the prisons near where you live, the possibilities of visiting the inmates and what their main needs are.

— If you can’t go yourself to visit prisoners, visit them with your prayer.

— Pray frequently for prisoners and their families.

— Consider whether you have any items, such as books, which could be donated to a prison.

— On big feasts, such as Christmas, try to send a card or a special treat to someone in prison.

Quotes from Sacred Scripture to reflect on

— ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’ (Mt 25:34-36).

— Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body (Heb 13:3).

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in theLord his God,who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. TheLord sets the prisoners free; theLord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down (Ps 146:5-8).

Quotes from Pope Francis to reflect on

— If you are not in prison, it’s because God has helped you not to fall. Do prisoners have a place in your heart? Do you pray for them, so that our Lord helps them to change their life? (Homily, 20 February 2013).

— I really love going to prisons. To talk with the inmates.... Perhaps you will understand what I am saying—every time I enter a prison, I ask myself: “Why them and not me?” And there I feel the salvation of Jesus Christ, the love of Jesus Christ for me. Because it is He who saved me. I am no less a sinner than they are (Address, 15 November 2015).

— Today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned person’s crime may have been. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person which contradicts God’s plan for man and for society and his merciful justice, and it fails to conform to any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather foments revenge (Letter, 20 March 2015).

Quotes from Saint Josemaria to reflect on

— One can be a prisoner in the most horrible and inhuman cell, and be free, accepting God’s will and loving sacrifice, thinking about all the souls on earth. How many martyrs for the faith in our days have soared like eagles, with their body in irons and their soul free to love God without any limit! (25 June 1972).

— Love of God marks out the way of truth, justice and goodness. When we make up our minds to tell Our Lord, ‘I put my freedom in your hands,’ we find ourselves loosed from the many chains that were binding us to insignificant things, ridiculous cares or petty ambitions. Then our freedom, which is a treasure beyond price, a wonderful pearl that it would be a tragedy to cast before swine, will be used by us entirely to learn how to do good. This is the glorious freedom of the children of God (Friends of God, no. 38).

— I will tell you which are man’s treasures on earth so that you will appreciate them: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, pain, dishonor, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, slander, prison... (The Way, no. 194).

Links to other resources

"You visited me in prison"

The Book I Read in Prison

Restoring Hope to Prisoners through Rugby

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Editor: R. Vera | Videos: Dígito Identidad | © Communications Office of Opus Dei