My Elizabethan Friend

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I happen to have a friend who — quite apart from the fact that she is of Hungarian descent — reminds me of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. She is not a queen. She is a wife, the mother of two teen–agers, and a nurse. She offers friendship, comfort, help in need, and good counsel. She accompanies insecure, inept, and frightened people to the doctor's office, visits the sick at home, runs to the assistance of families in distress, and occasionally looks after injured animals in her neighbourhood. On Thanksgiving she opens her home to those without family. For all of that, she finds time to pray, often slipping into church for a time of Eucharistic adoration or a rosary. She goes to Mass during the week. Like Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, she practices the Seven Corporal and Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I mused in my homily this morning that an artist should paint a series of fourteen panels showing Saint Elizabeth of Hungary practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Adé Béthune did her own series for The Catholic Worker many years ago. At Santa Croce in Gerusalemme we have enormous canvases depicting them all over the abbey; I wish I had photos of them to post here.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy

1. Feed the hungry.
2. Give drink to the thirsty.
3. Clothe the naked.
4. Shelter the homeless.
5. Visit the sick.
6. Visit the imprisoned.
7. Bury the dead.

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy

1. Counsel the doubtful.
2. Instruct the ignorant.
3. Adminish sinners.
4. Comfort the afflicted.
5. Forgive offenses.
6. Bear wrongs patiently.
7. Pray for the living and the dead.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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