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The Works of Mercy

The Heart of Catholicism, Third Edition

James F. Keenan, SJ

The Works of Mercy introduces readers to the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy, inviting readers to explore mercy in our everyday lives. James Keenan defines mercy as “the willingness to enter into the chaos of another,” and it is one of the central elements of the Christian faith. Over the centuries Christians have defined themselves by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick. The book explores the traditional works of mercy and also looks at how mercy enters into ordinary life, in the way we care for our families and the way we care for ourselves. The third edition features more inclusive language to resonate with readers of all backgrounds, new case studies and examples—from health care to the prison system, and new material on how Pope Francis and his papacy reflect mercy. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 178Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-4713-0 • Hardback • May 2017 • $70.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4422-4714-7 • Paperback • May 2017 • $24.00 • (£15.95)
978-1-4422-4715-4 • eBook • May 2017 • $23.99 • (£15.95) (coming soon)
James F. Keenan, SJ, is Canisius Professor and director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics and Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition.
Chapter One: Mercy Distinguishes Christian Morality
Part I: The Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter Two: The Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter Three: Visit the Prisoner
Chapter Four: Shelter the Homeless
Chapter Five: Feed the Hungry
Chapter Six: Give Drink to the Thirsty
Chapter Seven: Bury the Dead
Chapter Eight: Visit the Sick
Chapter Nine: Clothe the Naked
Part II: A Meditation on Mercy in Light of September 11, 2001
Chapter Ten: Amazing Grace
Part III: The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Chapter Eleven: The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Chapter Twelve: A Reconciling Spirit
Chapter Thirteen: Being Vigilant
Chapter Fourteen: Prayer
Part IV: A Meditation on Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy
Chapter Fifteen: Role Reversals and the Scandal of Mercy
Part V: Mercy and the Eucharistic Liturgy
Chapter Sixteen: The Entrance Rite
Chapter Seventeen: The Liturgy of the Word
Chapter Eighteen: The Liturgy of the Eucharist
Chapter Nineteen: Communion
Part VI: A Meditation on HIV/AIDS in a World in Need of Mercy
Chapter Twenty: HIV/AIDS in a World in Need of Mercy
Part VII: Mercy and Ordinary Life
Chapter Twenty-One: Entering into My Own Chaos
Chapter Twenty-Two: Entering the Chaos of Family Life
Chapter Twenty-Three: Entering the Chaos of the World
Part VIII: A Meditation on Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving Day
Chapter Twenty-Four: Thanksgiving for Tender Mercies
James F. Keenan, SJ, is one of the church's most vibrant, influential, and sensible theologians. His work on mercy and compassion, as well as his larger work on moral theology, has had a profound influence on my own life. His writings, based on Scripture, tradition, and experience, are accessible, inviting, faithful, provocative, and inspiring. Father Keenan has helped to teach me how to think about life, and, more importantly, how to live.
James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage

Pope Francis has called for a “Church of Mercy”—but what does that require of us today? James Keenan shows us the way, incarnating Christian moral wisdom in vivid accounts of suffering and succor. Keenan takes us from a Tijuana jail cell, through the cancer wards at a Boston teaching hospital, to a little bistro called Sweet Inspiration in the Philippines. A consummate teacher, he equips us to recognize and respond to the urgent pleas for mercy in our own lives.
M. Cathleen Kaveny, Darald and Juliet Libby Professor of Law and Theology, Boston College

In this compelling and evocative work, Keenan sheds new light on the Christian tradition of mercy. With his characteristic erudition and enviable fluency, Keenan reveals the multidimensional nature of mercy, highlighting how the works of mercy are structured into all aspects of Christian life and identity. The updated material in this new edition reconfirms how needful of mercy the world continues to be. Moreover, it captures beautifully the way Pope Francis has evoked and embodied this theology of mercy. Elegantly written, this book is as much a meditation as it is a work of theology.
Linda Hogan, Trinity College, Dublin

With characteristic skill at combining profound theological insights with engaging narratives, James Keenan provides an inspiring account of the works of mercy essential to Christian living. This edition’s enduring guideposts from the riches of scripture and tradition, resonant personal accounts, and creative updates enable readers to discern God’s invitation to show mercy amidst the chaos of our daily lives. The Works of Mercy brilliantly illuminates the heart of discipleship as we live it out in our ordinary relationships.
Kristin E. Heyer, Boston College

A concise and compelling introduction to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy

Warm and accessible, filled with global examples as well as personal stories

Helps readers understand how the works of mercy fit with daily life

New features
Maintains the same overall structure as the second edition

Features two new chapters—Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy (Chapter 15) and Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving and its Resonance Today (Chapter 24)

Uses more inclusive language to welcome readers of all faith backgrounds, or none

Includes updates in each chapter, including fresh examples, current statistics, and more