Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Divine Mercy Sunday - What does that mean?

For Catholics...  go to confession* and receive the Holy Communion today for special indulgences from sin.  For non-Catholics reading this, it will probably seem strange to you if you don't understand how Catholics view and believe in Tradition, and how we heed what the Pope, Saints and the Church tell us (we believed it all comes from Christ Himself because there are other figures and resources, along with the Bible, that we can divinely learn from).  I will discuss those things for better understanding in the future, but since it's Divine Mercy Sunday today, I wanted to go ahead and share this now.

Divine Mercy Sunday is a Roman Catholic solemnity celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, the Octave of Easter. It is originally based on the Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy that Saint Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus, and is associated with special promises from Jesus.  -From Wikipedia

The attached is a great consolation in our troubled world, by Fr. Marvin Deutsch, M.M.

About Divine Mercy Sunday

Today, the first Sunday after Easter, is Divine Mercy Sunday. This is something rather new in the Church. Where did it come from and why did it spring up? For many years, in fact about 300, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was very popular. This devotion was introduced by Jesus himself through revelations to Margaret Mary Alocoque who died in the year 1690. It was faithfully promoted by the Jesuits. I remember as a boy, my mother used to listen to a 15 minute broadcast every morning at 7 AM speaking about devotion to the Sacred Heard and its many merits bringing peace to the soul. The program was beautifully done by the Jesuits and seemed to be in such a stark contrast to the news of the day which was usually alarming and distressing. However, unfortunately, this devotion fell away along with many others at the close of the Vatican Council. It was obvious to me that something new was needed to replace it.

In God's plan, we see that's what happened. Something new came about through revelations to Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a nun who lived in Krakow, Poland. Jesus dictated many things to her which she wrote down and today can be found in a large book, The Diary of Sr. Faustina. Sr. Faustina died in the year 1938 at the age of 33. The 6 notebooks she had filled with her conversations with Christ, were stored away in the convent archives, and remained there many years just gathering dust. But Karol Vojtyla, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, found out about these writings, rescued them from the archives and appointed his best Theologian to pour over them. The results were amazing. The accuracy and depth of these writings from a theological point of view were astounding. It was not possible that a simple uneducated nun could write something like this without divine help.

Well, Cardinal Archbishop Vojtyla was elected Pope in 1978. Two years later in 1980 he wrote his second encyclical entitled, Dives in Misericorida (Rich in Mercy). He said the reason why he wrote this encyclical was because he believed that because of the major anxieties of our times, what was needed was God's mercy, for God's mercy constituted the fundamental content of the messianic message.

This devotion was celebrated unofficially in many places for many years, especially through the recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet on the rosary beads. However, on April 30th, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar. At this time, the Pope said that he felt a closeness to Sr. Faustina when he was writing his encyclical, Dives in Miserecordia. It is interesting to note that the Pope died during the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. For good reason he is known even today as the Mercy Pope. It is no coincidence that Pope John Paul is being beatified tomorrow, May 1. When canonized in the not too distant future, as one of his attributes, he will be St. John Paul of the Divine Mercy.

One of the requests of Jesus to Sr. Faustina was that there should not only be a feast day of Divine Mercy but also a novena to precede it. Thus the novena would begin on Good Friday and end on the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday. I would like to briefly mention the novena intention for each day which Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to include:

Day one - "Today bring to me all mankind, especially all sinners." Day two - "Today bring me the Souls of Priests and Religious." Day three - "Today bring me all devout and faithful souls." Day 4 - "Today bring to me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know me." Day 5 - "Today bring me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from my Church." Day 6 - "Today bring me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children." Day 7 - "Today bring me the souls who especially venerate and glorify my Mercy." Day 8 - "Today bring me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory." Day 9 - Today bring to me the souls of those who have become lukewarm."

There is more to each intention - the words of Jesus expressing his sorrow. But I will just include here for brevity and gravity sake, his words regarding intention number 7, which is especially relevant for all of you who are here today:

Today bring to me the souls who especially venerate and glorify my Mercy: Most merciful Jesus, whose heart is love itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your Mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities, they go forward, confident of Your Mercy; and united to you, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Some concluding thoughts: The Divine Mercy promoted by St. Faustina is based upon entries in St. Faustina's dairy stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of confession and Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of sins. According to the notebooks of St. Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day.

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 fount 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 grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My Mercy is so great that no mind be that of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity."
(Diary of St. Faustina, 699) 

  - Fr. Marvin Deutsch, M.M.

Singing of the Divine Mercy prayer.

*The Church says about Confession regarding Divine Mercy Sunday: "It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act."  In other words, if you receive Holy Communion today, and have been to, or plan to go to Confession within 20 days of today, then you'll receive a plenary indulgence.  Click HERE for "General Remarks on Indulgence" from the Vatican.

May His abundant Mercy be upon you!

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