This is the third in my series on the works of mercy and how to live them in everyday life. You can find posts about feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty in the archives. The Works of Mercy are integral to living our faith, yet they are often overlooked because we do not know how to do them even though we know that we should. Also, as parents we must teach the Faith to our children, but teaching does not mean just book knowledge. To truly teach Faith, a Faith that is ingrained on the soul and in the heart and throughout the mind, it must be lived. As St Paul said, “Faith without works is dead.”
Here are five ways that you and your family can learn to clothe the naked and so be the hands and feet of Christ here on earth.
If this type of fundraiser isn’t available in your area, seek out thrift shops that either give the clothing away for free or fundraise for charity work. My favorite thrift store not only sells items at amazing prices, but also uses every penny earned to fund mission trips to South America. They also provide items for free to anyone who cannot afford to pay. I know when I bring items there, they will be put to good use many times over!
Like the other corporal works of mercy, there is a spiritual dimension to this work. It is not just clothing the body, it is clothing the soul in dignity. Clothing the body is necessary and protective, but what if you could touch someone’s soul, too? A little girl had just that idea and Hannah’s Socks was created. The premise is to provide new socks and under garments to homeless and impoverished people to help them feel a sense of dignity and comfort. This small amount of normalcy can make a big difference in the life of someone suffering through being unwanted or marginalized.
This is a very easy way to serve the poor. Collect socks and undergarments and then find a homeless shelter or clothing charity to distribute the items to those who come in looking for some basics of life.
Now that you have cleaned out your closet, supported a clothing ministry or fundraiser, parted with that favorite sweater, and purchased some new underwear, what more is there to do? How about giving of your time and talent, not just your stuff? Do you know how to knit or crochet? Can you sew? You can make the world of difference for someone.
As our pastor would say, “Let’s begin with a story.” It was 2007, we were barely getting by and sweating every penny despite working as hard as we could. The phone rang one day and I was offered a free two night stay at a resort about 3 hours away if I would just listen to a half hour presentation on time shares while there. We so needed a little break. I calculated out the price of gas to scrimp and save up before we went. We packed up easy to prepare foods to cook lunch and dinner (breakfast was included) in the efficiency style suite. We knew that we had no money to spend on entertainment and more than once really wondered how we would even cover the gas, but getting away for a couple of days seemed to be just what we needed. The room was beautiful and big. The area looked a whole lot like home but still was a nice change of scenery. We heated up our simple supper, tucked Cowgirl into bed, and watched a little movie on the television. Life was good. In the morning, we woke up and started getting ready for breakfast. The tile in the kitchen area was shiny black and so slippery. Cowgirl only had socks on as she had hidden her shoes and I was searching for them. She suddenly took off in a run. My husband opened his mouth to say, “Stop running before you slip and hit your head,” but only got as far as “St..” before we heard the slam of her head on the concrete floor. She screamed for an hour straight, her pupils were dilating then shrinking to pin holes right before my eyes. That was when we got scared. We put her in the car and tried to find the closest hospital She vomited four times on the way there, it was a less than 10 minute drive. We were away from home, out of extra clothes for Cowgirl, and wondering how in the world we would now pay for the emergency room bill when we couldn’t even afford to buy our daughter an ice cream cone. We sat there with a naked toddler and a disgusting car seat calculating how to even get her back to the hotel. Then a sweet nurse walked in and handed us a hand knit blanket from Project Linus. I can’t tell you how much it meant to us. Cowgirl thought the ER was the best part of the trip, a free blanket and an ice pop! Her concussion was minor but still so scary.
The ultimate nakedness is vulnerability and dependency. The aged, infirmed, and unborn are the most naked of our society. They need us to clothe them in help, love, and protection. If you want to clothe the naked, start with restoring dignity to all life. Without dignity, even the best dressed person is left exposed and rejected. We must support pro-life efforts within our community and parish, and teach our children about the value and sacredness of every life!
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