Monday, April 13, 2015

Divine Mercy

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a day that celebrates the merciful love of God.  Pope John Paul II established the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday on April 30, 2000, at the canonization of St. Faustina.  
Since this is a fairly new feast, many of us might not be familiar with it.  So, let me briefly review its history.  Sister Maria Faustina, a Polish nun of the Sisters of our Lady of Mercy, had a special devotion to the mercy and trust of Jesus.  On February 22, 1931, Sister Faustina saw an image of Jesus dressed like that in the picture displayed in the gathering space.  Jesus told her to paint of picture of this vision and to venerate it. 
Sister Faustina wrote in her diary:  "The Lord permitted me to see the immensity and greatness of His Mercy.  If souls could only realize how much God loves them!"
Jesus told Sister Faustina:  "Know my daughter, that My heart is mercy itself.  From this sea of mercy graces pour out upon the whole world.  No souls that come to Me depart without being comforted.   All misery vanishes in My Mercy: and every grace, redemptive and sanctifying, stems from this source."
Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, was the champion of Sister Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy.  As Archbishop of Krakow in 1965, he began the process of the beautification of Sister Faustina.  After he was elected Pope, his second encyclical, Rich in Mercy, was influenced by the message of Divine Mercy.  And, on April 2nd, 2005, right after the Divine Mercy Sunday vigil mass was celebrated in his room, Pope John Paul II passed away.
I must admit that I haven't paid much attention to the message of Divine Mercy in the past.  But, this year, I think the Lord wanted to get my attention.  So, last November, when my wife attended a prayer service, a visionary gave her a rose pedal which had the Divine Mercy Image on it.  When Lent began, she suggested that we pray the Divine Mercy chaplet each night.  Then, we, like many others in the parish, participated in the 33 days to Morning Glory retreat during Lent. At the end of this retreat, we said the consecration prayer which included the following: "Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy."   Hmmm, this sounds like Divine Mercy.   Then, I was asked to lead the Divine Mercy Celebration this afternoon during which we will venerate the divine mercy image.  So, the Lord has my attention.  He wants me to tell everyone about His divine mercy.  
Our Lord said to Sister Faustina: "I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the font of My mercy. The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.".
We can celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy today three ways:

1.  We are to venerate the sacred image of our merciful Savior by gazing upon it as a reminder to trust Jesus and be merciful.  This afternoon at 3, we will have a Divine Mercy celebration in church with an opportunity for everyone to venerate the sacred image.
2.  We are to seal and ratify the covenant of mercy by receiving Holy Communion.
3.  We are to perform some works of mercy for others.
Jesus said to Sr. Faustina: "Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy". Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity.

Why has Jesus given this message to us today?
Our Lord makes it very clear to Saint Faustina that this need to proclaim His message of mercy is urgent, because the world needs it as a preparation for His coming again.  Jesus told her: "Speak to the world about My mercy.... It is a sign for the end time. After it will come the Day of Justice...."   "You will prepare the world for My final coming... "  "Tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near."

God is love. The unconditional love of God, the Divine Mercy, is always there for us. The one unforgivable sin is to think that our sin is too great for the mercy of God. As we saw during Holy Week, this was the sin of Judas: not that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver but that he denied Jesus' Mercy. He thought that his sin was too great to be forgiven. He could have been forgiven just as Simon Peter was forgiven.
Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, is the day of mercy!
It is a day for us to turn to the Lord and plunge ourselves into the infinite ocean of His mercy. Today is the day to immerse our family and friends into the ocean of mercy by our prayers for them. Today is the day to tell Jesus we love Him and give our lives to Him and say that we trust Him. Today and every day we cry out to Him: Jesus, I Trust in You!