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The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ Paperback – December 16, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this engaging, entertaining book, Mark Shea helps us rediscover what Christians have practiced for centuries—the corporal and spiritual works of mercy." — Jimmy Akin, senior apologist, Catholic Answers

About the Author

MARK P. SHEA is a popular writer and speaker. He is coauthor of the bestseller A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About The Passion of The Christ and author of the acclaimed Mary, Mother of the Son trilogy. He is a regular contributor to the National Catholic Register, is a regular guest on Catholic radio, and blogs at Catholic and Enjoying It.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Servant Books (December 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616360097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616360092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mark P. Shea is a Catholic writer, speaker, and host of the popular blog, Catholic and Loving It! The term "double-jump convert" has been used to describe his progression from growing up with no religion to embracing non-denominational Evangelicalism 1979, and entering the Catholic Church in 1987.

The book covers the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works pertain to Matthew 25: 31-46 in which Jesus talks of God's separating goats from sheep on the basis of "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." Shea lists them as feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbor the harborless, visit the sick, ransom the captive, and bury the dead. The spiritual works reflect biblical teaching about the love of God for humans: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead. In each case, Shea offers insight on what these admonitions meant in Jesus' day, challenges in carrying them out today, and practical ideas for getting a start. The point, Shea writes, is for us to ensure our calling and election in union with Christ and help renew the face of the earth

The last chapter, Pray for the Living and the Dead, focuses on the Church's longstanding tradition of praying for anything and everything. Everybody gets prayed for, Shea writes, listing the usual family, friends and so on along side guys who cut you off on the freeway, a drunk you saw when you were in elementary school and, yes, the likes of Hitler and Osama and, for good measure, all those with no one else to pray for them.
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Format: Paperback
If you're like me, when you hear the topic of Mark Shea's book The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ, you might wonder how it can be (a) enticing, (b) non-preachy, and maybe even (c) interesting.

The topic, you ask? The corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

My first thought, I'll admit, was that it can all be summed up in a poster. Who needs a whole book?

But then I realized something: I don't really know much about the works of mercy. Do I know the ways to apply them? Am I able to identify them in my life (not counting the ever-present "feeding the hungry" that goes on around here)? Can I share them with my children, my students, my friends, in a way that's engaging and real-life?

The answer before I read this book was a firm No, in some shape or another. The answer after, I hope, is closer to a Yes. The book has given me an interest and curiosity and desire for the works of mercy and an appreciation for how very integrated they should be in the Christian life.

If you see this book and think "boring" in any way, shape, or form, let me just set things straight: you are WRONG. Shea does what he does so well: he engages the reader, makes the topic into something you never thought about, and gives you ways to apply it to your faith in tangible ways.

It's not a long book, but it's deep in content and you'll find that it plants seeds of thought that you'll find flowering later. As you read it, you'll find it steeped in Church tradition and Scripture scholarship, in humorous anecdote and ongoing wisdom, in practical application and challenging calls to action.

Highly recommended and worth every minute you spend reading it.
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I am reading this as part of a reading group whose members belong to the Social Justice Commission at our parish. We voted on which title to read this summer. I voted for this book, based on enthusiastic endorsements and comments to the effect that Mr. Shea goes into the scriptural basis, spiritual foundation and history of the works of mercy in the Catholic tradition. I find instead that these subjects get short shrift--not much more than cursory treatment. The author gives nearly equal emphasis to topics such as differentiating between the Evangelical and the Roman Catholic understandings of the basis of salvation. The text is peppered with brief mentions of various sins of our culture, which Shea fails to develop in any substantive way. For example, he mentions "our euthanasia culture," but leaves it at that. He apparently assumes that the reader knows what he means by the phrase. My complaint is not that he doesn't explain it--it's that he mentions it in the first place. What I would have preferred is that he touch on fewer topics, and develop them more fully, drawing on the deep reservoir of Catholic teaching and history on the works of mercy. The book need not have been a long one in order to do that.

The rich, distinctive spirituality of the Catholic tradition doesn't come through in Shea's writing. I give it two stars because there is some meaningful substance there, but it takes some work to get around the rest of it. That's why I find this title a disappointment.
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