The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy: Living the “Little Way” of Family Life

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

In preparation for our oldest child’s First Communion, we were reviewing the various Works of Mercy.  When he heard that they included things like feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked, he looked up at us and said, “You guys do those things all the time.  They should call them the Corporal Works of Mommy–and Daddy too!”

Our son stumbled upon a great spiritual truth.  Family life can be an incredible engine of spiritual growth.  The Works of Mercy as practiced at home–what I have come to call The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy–remind us that charity truly does begin at home, and that there is no better place to remind each other what we are worth in God’s eyes–that is, to practice mercy–than in the home.   Here are some ways you can draw greater spiritual significance from living out the simple tasks of life in your family.

The Corporal Works of Mommy & Daddy

Feeding the Hungry: Family members  truly bless one another when they create a nurturing place around the dinner table for communion and conversation to occur and when they take time to plan nourishing, heartwarming meals.  Tons of research reveals the benefits of families sitting down to meals together including everything from better physical and mental health outcomes, higher academic achievement, and greater life and relationship satisfaction.  Add “growing in holiness” to the list!

Give Drink to the Thirsty: What parent hasn’t been asked to get a thirsty child a drink in the middle of the night?  Getting up and serving that child cheerfully with compassion is a work of mercy that reminds the child that his or her needs are important and that they will be heard and loved even when it is inconvenient for us to do so.

Clothe the Naked:  Finding the grace to be patient while dealing with a toddler who only wants to wear the blue shirt or helping a teen dress attractively, yet modestly, isn’t just an exercise in patience, it’s an opportunity to help your children remember their worth in God’s eyes!

Sheltering The Homeless: Putting in the thought, time, and effort it takes to make your house a welcoming home by working to make it a beautiful, orderly, yet comfortable and hospitable place is a great way to remind yourself and your family of their dignity as children of God.  And teaching your family to be good stewards of what you have been given is an important lesson in godly gratitude.

Visit the Sick:  When you respond to a sick child lovingly, refusing to treat him or her as a burden or an inconvenience even though the illness has thrown your schedule into chaos, you are practicing mercy, growing in personal holiness, and showing your child his or her worth in God’s eyes and yours.

Visit the Imprisoned:  It is one thing to banish our children to their rooms or to time out when they have committed some offense, but when we visit them a few minutes later, talk them through their error, teach them what to do instead, and work to heal their hurts and rebuild our relationship, we are practicing true mercy and showing our children they still have worth in God’s eyes and our eyes even when they mess up.

Bury the Dead: Helping a child deal with sad transitions in life, whether due to the loss of a pet or favorite relative,  or other events that can turn family life upside down, requires incredible compassion and sensitivity–especially when we are dealing with our own grief.  Doing this well enables our children to connect with God’s loving presence even in times of sadness.


The Spiritual Works of Mommy and Daddy

Of course, there are Spiritual Works of Mommy and Daddy too.  There isn’t room to address these at length here, but it should be obvious that there are ample opportunities to admonish wrongdoing, instruct each other in the right things to do,  counsel each other work through doubts, comfort each other in times of sadness, bear wrongs patiently, forgive willingly, and pray for one another.

Saint Making Machines

The truth is, our homes can become saint-making machines if we simply realize the transforming, spiritual power that exists behind even the most mundane tasks of family life. We can use The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy to cooperate with God’s plan to make us and our children into the saints we were created to be!

God has incredible plans for your family! May those plans unfold in your home as you explore all the ways the Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy can help you experience the family life God wants for you!  To discover more ways you can encounter God’s grace hidden behind the mundane moments of family life, check out Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids and Parenting with Grace.

Breastfeeding Could Save Lives of Over 800,000 Babies & 20,000 Moms Annually


New report in the British Medical Journal The Lancet.  H/T HuffPo

New research highlights the economic advantages of exclusive and continued breastfeeding in rich and poor countries alike, and the enormous cost of failing to support it writes Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General.

As a young doctor working with refugees in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, I saw how breastfed babies can prosper even under such challenging circumstances, and even when they are sick or small. So I am delighted that new research published today in The Lancet again confirms the health benefits of breastfeeding.

The findings show that breastfed infants are more likely to thrive physically and mentally into adulthood. Breastfeeding should be exclusive for at least the first six months of life and then with a mix of other foods, ideally up to the age of two. The authors — a team of independent scientists, together with the World Health Organization and UNICEF — also conclude that the health benefits are as significant in rich countries as in poor ones.

Breast is best: benefits worldwide for moms and tots
The message that “breast is best” applies equally the world over, and to children as well as mothers. Longer durations of breastfeeding improve maternal health by increasing birth spacing, and saves thousands of lives every year from reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

According to The Lancet series, improved rates of exclusive and continued breastfeeding could prevent:

~820,000 deaths in children under 5 years annually

~20,000 additional deaths from breast cancer annually (even at current rates, 20,000 deaths are averted)

~Ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes for some mothers.

 Economic dividends

A less familiar finding is that higher rates of breastfeeding could also pay enormous economic dividends. Purely in terms of reduced healthcare costs due to improved breastfeeding practices, the study projects total savings of more than US$300 million in the US, UK, Brazil and urban China alone. These add to the other economic benefits associated with breastfeeding, such as higher IQ, greater school attainment and higher salary in later years. These economic findings are yet another brick in the now imposing wall of evidence that supports the case for exclusive breastfeeding.   READ MORE


The Theology of the Body points out that our bodies are given to us so that we can work for the good of others.  In order to be truly fulfilled in our life and relationships we need to ask God how he would want us to use our bodies to serve others.  God gives breastmilk to the mother to be held in trust for the baby.  When mothers faithfully respond to that trust, both mom and baby benefit on so many levels. In Parenting with Grace and Then Comes Baby, my wife and I offer ways moms can get the information and support they need to create a healthy and mutually nurturing breastfeeding relationship with their little ones.  Discover how breastfeeding isn’t an obligation or a cross, but a blessing for you and baby!