Living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in the Home. . . with Frankie

by | Jul 21, 2015 | Catholic Living, Parenting, Printables | 33 comments

It’s easy to sometimes feel like motherhood isn’t compatible with
true Christian works of mercy. After all, not many of us are able to
manage the kind of charitable activities that our sisters called to
single life or religious vocations might be able to do.

have never once visited a prison. I’ve never brought the gospel to
naked savages or pagan Irishmen. I’ve never handed out sandwiches to
hobos from the back entrance to the house. My house doesn’t even HAVE a
back entrance.

In my Exactly How to be a Good Catholic
post, I indicated that those of us who, because of our station in life,
weren’t really able to perform these acts of mercy ourselves could
support those who do financially and with our prayers. That’s important.
We should TOTALLY do that.

But also . . . I took a closer
look at the list. And, I was like . . . hold the phone! I do that stuff
in my home . . .  as my job. I hardly do anything BUT that stuff. And I do it .
. . with FRANKIE.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

First the Corporal Works of Mercy . . .  

Feed the Hungry

Yes. Yes, I do. All day long. Three meals, sometimes snacks, sometimes dessert. Sometimes neighbor kids want to eat too.

sometimes, Frankie will say something like, “I want beans. But plain.
No beans. A soft.” And *I* have to figure out that he wants a tortilla.

Give Drink to the Thirsty

also like to drink. At every meal. In between meals. In all cars at all
times. At EVERY drinking fountain we happen to pass. But I draw the
line at while napping or sleeping. I just can’t. So I don’t.

Clothe the Naked

get my kids dressed in the morning. But you wouldn’t always know it to
look at them. We even have a specific rule meant to address this issue: DON’T TAKE YOUR PANTS OFF WITHOUT A PLAN. It’s a good rule. But it has its limitations, and most often those limitations are manifest when we have a repair guy over.

Shelter the Homeless

We let him live here. Rent free. Even though he makes this face. A lot.

Visit the Sick

visit Frankie when he’s sick. But he’s not usually interested in a lot
of interaction. Mostly I’m useful to him as a means to refill his juice
and start up Mater’s Tall Tales on Netflix again.

Visit the Imprisoned

though Frankie’s imprisonments are most often my doing, I do visit him.
I check to see if he’s STILL wailing over getting the green cup instead of the blue cup, or if he’s ready to rejoin the family. I also come to
his rescue when he’s imprisoned himself up on the top bunk. Again.

Bury the Dead 

Most of our burying of the dead is backyard chicken-related. But also, we bring our kids to funerals, and it turns out they’re cool with that sort of thing.

Next the Spiritual Works of Mercy . . . 

Admonish the Sinner

boy. Do I ever do this one. I’m admonishing all OVER the place. Even at
DISNEYLAND. Kick your little sister with your pointy cowboy boot? Boom.
Admonished. No ice cream-type admonished. I am MEAN MERCIFUL.

Instruct the Ignorant

yes. For instance: Frankie believed this to be a drawing of “a super
happy baby who is smiling.” I was able to use this opportunity for a
little discussion about what SMILING is.

Counsel the Doubtful

is doubtful about many things. Taking naps and trying new foods are
high on the list of things about which he has doubts. Here for instance,
he is entertaining doubts about the edibility of Indian food. But I
COUNSELthreatened him into trying it. And he liked it just fine.

Comfort the Sorrowful

is also sorrowful about many things. Having to eat off of the “You are
special today” plate on his special day, for instance, will sometimes
make him VERY sorrowful. But with some careful COMFORTthreatening he can
always be brought back around.

Bear Wrongs Patiently

Oh, Frankie. The things you’ve said to me.

  • Sitting in church: I want to touch you, I just don’t want you to touch me.
  • After I got a manicure: Why do your fingers look like an old lady?
  • Tucking him in at bedtime: You can just give me my Lotso and go out of here.
  • Whenever he’s doing anything: I don’t need you to talk to me.
  • At all other times: Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. (repeat)

And imma BEAR it. For you, Frankie. Because I love you. And you mostly don’t mean it.

Forgive All Injuries

I do. I forgive them all. And honestly, it’s not even as hard as I would have thought. Because I love you. And you don’t ALWAYS smile, so when you do . . . it all feels worth it.

Pray for the Living and the Dead

home is far from perfect. But it IS a place of prayer. And few things
are cuter than the things kids come up with to pray about. Some are
sweet, “That I would be a good boy and not dwive everyone cwazy.” Some
are hard, “That mommy would feel better soon and so she doesn’t have to shout so much.” But
both are good prayers. I could use both.

Speaking of . . . After the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy came up in this post, and again in this one, reader Rebecca asked if I would make a printable featuring them.

So I did. Hope you like ’em.

As with all my printables, you are welcome to save the images to your
computer for your own personal use. You may
print the images and / or upload them and have prints made for your
personal use or to give as gifts. (These are sized for 8×10) First click on the image to bring it up in a
new window, then right click on the image to save it to your computer.
You may use my images on your blog, just please
link back to my blog. If you would like to sell my images, please
contact me first.
To request a custom printable, visit my Etsy shop here.

 For LOTS MORE free printable prayers, check out my Pinterest board.

These images are available for purchase in my Etsy shop, in a higher resolution, without the watermark, in multiple sizes from 5×7 to 16×20, and also as print-at-home two-sided holy cards. You’ll find them here. Thanks!

You might also enjoy:

What Cranky Frankie Taught Me About God

Cranky Frankie Went to the Fair


  1. Mary

    Very true and good reminder when in the trenches.
    He is adorable in his own way. That smile!

  2. Toni Carmon

    Oh my. What a terrific post. My girls and I love reading about Frankie. Thanks for another great one.

  3. AnneMarie

    This is fabulous. Way to bring the Works of Mercy into everyday life 🙂

  4. Jessica Carney

    Really, every vocation would include the Works of Mercy somehow, right? It seems to make sense that they would be built in differently to different vocations, although we're all expected to do them. For married people, our first responsibility is to make sure we do these things with our kids and our extended family–the people specifically given to our care. After that, we can find ways to serve the rest of the world. It's like on an airplane: you put your own oxygen mask on first, then you can help those around you.

  5. Brigid Hogan

    I just love to see/read about this child, especially something as thoughtful as this is.

  6. Amanda

    So hilarious and great! Your Frankie and my Eli would be fast friends.

  7. Amanda

    I love everything about this post, haha! I totally have a soft spot in my heart for Frankie, especially because he reminds me of my Peter so much (lesson learned: stop naming kids after saints…the saints were all kinda a mess before becoming saint-like 😉 )

    I often say that if I get to heaven it will totally be because of Peter. He's my sanctifying child, he works hard at sanctifying me every day. Heck, the kid totally peed on me when he was born, "thanks for all that laboring work you just did mom!"….all amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth which lasted a good 3 years. And now he likes to pretend he doesn't know any letters, and then proceed to write notes to Grandma with perfectly formed capital letters that he learned who-knows-where.

    Btw, I especially love that Frankie was upset by *having* to use the special day plate, what?! lol! And the comfort-threaten combo is oh so true, I think that's like 50% of mothering, haha!

  8. Nanacamille

    You just gotta love him with those big beautiful blue eyes. He's quite a character and when he does hug and kiss you he really means it…other wise he's just tell you to go away.

  9. Anonymous

    Frankie's face is endlessly expressive! -nancyo

  10. WritingWillow

    Probably your cutest (and my favorite!) printables to date. I always love a Cranky Frankie story to make me laugh a little. 🙂

  11. Janie De Lara

    I just love that kid and his stories. It is easier to smile at his frowny face from this side of the screen, though, I imagine 🙂 I was a lot like him as a kid, though. My mom always called me Janie-Complainy. And I turned out to be a (mostly) happy adult. I still have an Irish temper, though.

  12. Elizabeth

    I laughed all through this post, and now I feel like crying, because it's just SO GOOD to know that, day by day, I'm doing ALL THESE THINGS! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  13. Amanda

    One of my kids is…requiring me to do extra works of mercy. All the time. I love this!! I'm growing spiritually, not just cleaning up soap! Plus, that Frankie. He's something.

  14. Annie

    Can you please make a printable of, "Don't take your pants off without a plan?"

    • Kendra

      Oh my goodness. Now I think I might HAVE to. It's really good advice for EVERYONE, ya know?

    • Anonymous

      What is one example of an acceptable plan?

    • Kendra

      Acceptable plans around here include: "1. take off pants. 2. get in bathtub," "1. take off pants. 2. put on pajamas," and "1. take off pants. 2. use as floatation device." But that last one only works if you happen to be wearing sailor pants.

    • Amanda

      Yes please! This whole concept is hilarious to me and something I think my 4 year old might need 🙂

  15. Laura @ Mothering Spirit

    You are awesome. I love this. I don't think I realized how "Frankie" our Thomas is until I read this round-up. Lord, have mercy, indeed.

  16. Schafergal

    Hahaha. Hahahaha. This is AWESOME! I love it so very much. Thank you.

  17. Lena Schmor

    Thank you for writing about parenting challenges. I have spent quite a while convinced that if I were a better parent or stricter or knew the right system that my Little Z, my third, would have been easier. But, knowing that you have been around the block some and have a hard one gives me hope that maybe it isn't just me and persistence will win the day…eventually. I think Z would like Frankie. He likes screaming contests.

  18. Réka

    Thank you to sharing your big family's life, even the details and the nice pictures. Your children are reallly cute and beautiful! Thanks to God!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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