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Divine Mercy Sunday

April 7, 2024

This week, on this second Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the great feast of the Divine Mercy. It falls on the last day of the Easter octave closing the official celebration of Easter Sunday. This day was already an important day on the Church’s calendar and the adding of the Divine Mercy Feast emphasizes that. That particular Sunday was chosen by Christ Himself when He said to St. Faustina: “The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.”

While the idea of the mercy of God and devotion to it were not new in the Church, this particular form and practice of it was. In the grand scheme of things, it is a relatively newly instituted feast day, being placed on the calendar by St. Pope John Paul II on May 5th in the year 2000 after he had canonized St. Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska on April 30th. As we know, the devotion had already spread around the world by that point and the chaplet of Divine Mercy was known by a large number of people, which helped make this particular feast day so popular. The feast and the story of the Divine Mercy was propagated by many faithful souls who introduced it to our country and our own diocese many years before the formal institution of the feast which makes the USA one of the main countries where this devotion is propagated and celebrated.

This reemphasis on the mercy of God begins in the 1930s in Poland, with a simple uneducated nun who had only about 3 years of formal schooling in her life. She did many of the humble, menial tasks at the convent: worked in the kitchen, the garden and as porter. On February 22, 1931, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to this simple nun, bringing with Him a wonderful message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary that on that day:

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'" Sometime later, Our Lord again spoke to her: "The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."

Jesus asked that his image be painted and venerated throughout the world: “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish” and “By means of this image I will grant many graces to souls”. The Chaplet was also given to St. Faustina with this promise: “Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you”. “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. … Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy”.

In 2005, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote concerning the revelations by Christ to St. Faustina in the 1930s: This was precisely the time when those ideologies of evil, nazism and communism, were taking shape. Sister Faustina became the herald of the one message capable of off-setting the evil of those ideologies, that fact that God is mercy—the truth of the merciful Christ. And for this reason, when I was called to the See of Peter, I felt impelled to pass on those experiences of a fellow Pole that deserve a place in the treasury of the universal Church.

Let us not neglect to call upon the Divine Mercy of our Lord every day, to make the chaplet a part of our regular prayer routine along with the rosary, begging for the mercy of our God for ourselves and our country, to expiate for the evil and punishments that sin has called down upon us all. In His mercy we find refuge, help, protection and hope! Jesus, I trust in YOU!

God love you, Fr. Anthony

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