The second Spiritual Work of Mercy is to Counsel the Doubtful. What does this mean? How can we live this work of mercy?
Many people today are confused. They might be looking for meaning in their lives, for answers to the biggest questions (Why do I exist? Is there a purpose for my life? What is my calling in life?, etc.). Sometimes, a person simply needs someone that they can talk to, that they can “bounce ideas off.” If we are willing to listen, we have the first tool for living this work of mercy.
But being a good listener is not enough. It is also important that we understand the context of a person’s questions. Where are they coming from? What was their childhood like? Do they are a strong family support system? Do they have a religious background? Do they currently practice their faith, and is it the Catholic Faith?
All of this is important if we are to be able to provide good counsel. Why does it matter? Because we have to know where a person IS, if we are to help him to find the way to where he is GOING. Our goal in life is to get to heaven, to spend all eternity in the presence of Almighty God: All Joy, Peace, Love, Happiness, Friendship is ultimately found in union with Our Lord Jesus Christ — beginning in this life, and being fulfilled forever in eternal life. The ultimate goal of “Counsel the Doubtful” is to help the person who we are counseling to find Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When they find the Lord Jesus, and embrace Him and His Teachings as the Way, they will find the real meaning and purpose in life.
In what practical ways can we counsel the doubtful?
- Be a good listener and provide counsel to our own children, and other children within our circle of family and friends.
- Be a good listener to those struggling in their marriages, and encourage them to seek to base their marriages more perfectly on Christ. A good resource for this is The Alexander House Apostolate and the book Marriage 911.
- Be a good listener to those who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies, and help them to see their unborn child as a blessing from the Creator, rather than as a burden to be eliminated.
- Be a good listener to those struggling with various emotional struggles, and help them to turn to the Lord Jesus for healing of their emotions. It helps if we understand the way our emotions are supposed to work. I would recommend the writings of Dr. Conrad Baars (healing of neurosis) Dr. Theresa Burke (healing of emotional wounding from abortion) and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (healing of homosexual attractions).
Above all, when we are seeking to practice the Spiritual Work of Mercy of Counsel the Doubtful, we need to pray to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, so that we may be open to His Guidance — so that the Holy Spirit can speak through us to give guidance to those in need of good counsel.
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