Bright lights, sweet treats, social gatherings, and gift-giving— these are what used to make up the holiday season. But now that the world is battling a pandemic, the practice and traditions we are used to are gone or becoming different.
Hopefully, this change will help us remember and focus on the birth of our Savior, the true reason why the Church has given us a wonderful time of Advent. After all, the real meaning of Christmas should be centered on Christ. (Read: 7 Holy Prayers for the First Week of Advent)
As many say that Christmas is for children, let this be the perfect time for parents and guardians to bring their little ones closer to knowing and loving Jesus. And what better way to do that than to teach them how to live the corporal works of mercy?
The corporal works of mercy (along with spiritual works of mercy) are charitable actions wherein people— especially Christians— come to the aid of their neighbor in spiritual and bodily necessities. It’s an act that is most ideal for parents to teach to their children during the Advent season, wherein people are usually reminded of the true value of gift-giving.
Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the Hungry and Give Drink to the Thirsty
This Christmas, teach your children that feeding those who are hungry is an act of love. (Read: Couple Gives Out Thanksgiving Turkeys Despite Struggling Business) If you are able to, you can include Christmas packages for the less fortunate in your groceries and let your children choose what food to give. Or if you’re good at cooking, you can whip up dishes for the frontliners in your area and enlist the help of your little ones— they can help in doing the dishes or packing the food!
Corporal Works of Mercy: Clothe the Naked
Everyone needs clothing for warmth, protection, modesty, and dignity. Much like giving food and drink, helping the less fortunate obtain clothing is also an act of love. This Christmas, you can ask your children to clear up their closets and gather their old clothes for donation to victims of fire and flooding in the country. There are many donation drives still happening in different areas, and many people are still struggling with the aftermath of the recent tragedies. (LIST: Where to Give Food Donations for Typhoon Ulysses Victims)
Corporal Works of Mercy: Visit the Imprisoned
Those in prison and many other persons and their families suffer hindrances or dangers to freedom. This is why helping them and paying them a visit is an act of love. However, because we cannot really visit those who are in prisons amid the pandemic, what you can do for now is to teach your kids the values of humane treatment and remind them to always stand up to bullies. Being patriotic and speaking up for what is right is also a good value and trait to teach your child as early as now. (Read: 3 Ways To Shut Down Cyber Bullies)
Corporal Works of Mercy: Shelter the Homeless
Everyone needs shelter. But the sad truth is that some people live in homes made of cardboard or even discarded materials— many people are homeless. To help your child do and appreciate this corporal work of mercy, teach them the value of home. Remind them to always take care of the house— they can dust the furniture, make their own beds in the morning, and help take care of the garden. And while the Christmas season is here, employ their help in making the house ready for the holidays.
Bonus tip: Adopting pets from shelters is also a form of doing this corporal work of mercy! (Read: ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’ Like These Four Celebrities and Their Shelter Pets)
Corporal Works of Mercy: Visit the Sick
Of course, visiting the sick in hospitals or nursing homes is not possible in this time of a pandemic. But what you can do is tell your kids to help their grandparents if they are staying with you during this quarantine. You can also schedule video chats with them and the kids to cheer them up especially if they are alone this holiday season. (Read: Prayers for Those Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic)
Corporal Works of Mercy: Bury the Dead
This Christmas, you can teach your children the value of family and life by instilling in them respect for the departed, especially now that many are suffering loss because of COVID-19. Tell them to pray for them and offer kind words to family and friends who are going through grief and bereavement. (Read: A Solemn Prayer on the Day of a Person’s Death)