Q. Why is it a work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead?
A. It is a work of mercy to aid those who are unable to aid themselves. The living are exposed to temptations, and while in mortal sin they are deprived of the merit of their good works and need our prayers. The dead can in no way help themselves and depend on us for assistance.
Q. Which are the chief corporal works of mercy?
A. The chief corporal works of mercy are seven: To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead.
Q. How may we briefly state the corporal works of mercy?
A. We may briefly state the corporal works of mercy by saying that we are obliged to help the poor in all their forms of want.
Q. How are Christians aided in the performance of works of mercy?
A. Christians are aided in the performance of works of mercy through the establishment of charitable institutions where religious communities of holy men or women perform these duties for us, provided we supply the necessary means by our almsgiving and good works.
Q. Who are religious?
A. Religious are self-sacrificing men and women who, wishing to follow more closely the teachings of Our Lord, dedicate their lives to the service of God and religion. They live together in societies approved by the Church, under a rule and guidance of a superior. They keep the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and divide their time between prayer and good works. The houses in which they dwell are called convents or monasteries, and the societies in which they live are called religious orders, communities or congregations.
Q. Are there any religious communities of priests?
A. There are many religious communities of priests, who, besides living according to the general laws of the Church, as all priests do, follow certain rules laid down for their community. Such priests are called the regular clergy, because living by rules to distinguish them from the secular clergy who live in their parishes under no special rule. The chief work of the regular clergy is to teach in colleges and give missions and retreats.
Q. Why are there so many different religious communities?
A. There are many different religious communities (1) because all religious are not fitted for the same work, and (2) because they desire to imitate Our Lord’s life on earth as perfectly as possible; and when each community takes one of Christ’s works and seeks to become perfect in it, the union of all their works continues as perfectly as we can the works He began upon earth.