by Val Conlon
John Paul II said at the canonisation of St. Faustina “By this act today I pass on the message of Divine Mercy to the new millennium. I pass it on because I want people to know the better face of God, and that of his Divine Mercy, and through it, the better face of their brethren. The light of the message of Divine Mercy which the Lord wished to renew in the world, will be as much a beacon of hope for the third millennium, as the apostles were in the first”. He said that in future this Sunday would be known throughout the world as Divine Mercy Sunday.
From those who still turn a deaf ear to these new revelations for our time, I have heard the excuse put forward that the life of the church has always been about devotion to the Mercy of God, so why do we need a new devotion about the same thing. In today’s world it is demonstrably clear, that man has failed to listen to God, and the whole world is on the precipice.
This is obviously why Jesus found it necessary to urgently appeal to man in a new way, and has given us an extraordinary message revealed through Saint Faustina, with extraordinary promises attached to help guide modern man back to the faith. He has given us a New Image from which he promises great graces will flow wherever it is exposed and venerated. An Image which is to be a fountain of mercy, that we can continue to come too and replenish our strength and belief with the graces that flow from it. We can fill the vessel which is our soul with a new spirit of faith, a faith that dries up so easily in today’s environment.
He has given us new and powerful prayers, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy which if said sincerely and reverently, gives us the extraordinary opportunity to offer up to the Father, the Body and Blood Soul and Divinity of His Dearly beloved Son, which is His sacrifice on the Cross, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. What a powerful prayer this is, a prayer with a power that may be second only to the power of the Mass. He also promises that if this prayer is said in the presence of a dying sinner, regardless of whether they take part or not, He will save the soul of that sinner.
The Conversion prayer which if said sincerely, at the moment of three o’clock, with a contrite heart, and with faith, on behalf of a sinner, will result in a promise from Jesus to come into the life of that soul. The Proclamation or spreading of the Message, has another wonderful promise attached, ensuring the saving of your own soul, if you help to spread His Mercy in Deed, Word, and Prayer.
Then there is the greatest promise of all, for sinners on the Sunday after Easter, the Feast Day of His Mercy, for those who comply with the conditions desired by Jesus in preparation for the Feast, and on the Feast Day itself, this promise is manifested by a complete cleansing of the soul, making it as clean and as clear of sin as the day of our Baptism.
Also on the Feast of Mercy we receive the unique Spirit of Divine Mercy. It is this Spirit of Divine Mercy, that will heal the wounds of the human heart. It is this Spirit of Divine Mercy that will haul down the barriers that separate us from God, it is this Spirit of Divine Mercy that will dispel the distrust that separates us from each other, and it is this Spirit of Divine Mercy that restores the Fathers love for us, and our love for the Father. What a wonderful occasion the Feast of Mercy is!
Some people still maintain that the Feast of Mercy should not take place within the octave of Easter, the opinion being, that Divine Mercy devotions are still just private devotions which conflict with the Church’s liturgy during the octave of Easter. Anyone who is of this opinion cannot understand the true nature of the Divine Mercy Message or the actual status of the Feast of Divine Mercy since the Canonisation of Saint Faustina.
First and most importantly, the Feast of Divine Mercy is not anymore a private devotion. It is a solemn feast, formally established by Pope John Paul II, with approval from three Vatican Congregations: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship, and the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.
This approval was given to the Church on the 5th May 2000 in the form of a Decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, and the Discipline of the Sacraments and it will be celebrated in St. Peters as an official feast day on the Sunday after Easter each year now. As the feast has been approved by the Holy See, it is now open to any bishop to establish it in his own diocese, or for a bishop’s conference to establish it for the whole of a country.
Clearly the Pope himself is eager for the Church everywhere, to formally celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, but it is up to the Bishops to establish it as a liturgical feast day, in each country. To answer those who still think that this celebration of the Feast of Mercy conflicts with the Church’s liturgy during the octave of Easter, the obvious answer is that Jesus chose this day because it is already a day of celebration of His Divine Mercy, and therefore does not conflict with the liturgy of the day.
The Scripture lessons on this Sunday already centre on God’s Divine Mercy. The Gospel for the day has always been of Jesus appearing in the upper room and bestowing authority to forgive sins, and the responsorial Psalm for the day, has always been Psalm 118 which sings of the mercy of God enduring forever.
In fact, in the writings of St. Augustine you can see, that in the ancient Church the Sunday after Easter, was held as a great feast day in celebration of the merciful love of God, which he said was displayed in all the events of the Paschal Mystery. St. Augustine called the Sunday after Easter, “a day that is a compendium of all God’s mercies.”
In fact, it could be said that Divine Mercy Sunday is not a new feast that conflicts with Easter but the renewal of an ancient feast of the Church, that celebrates Christ rising from the dead and thereby bringing everlasting life to mankind, which is the ultimate act of God’s Divine Mercy.
But there must be effort on our part to receive this great gift, so we must observe strictly the conditions requested by our Lord in preparation for the Feast of Mercy, and the gift of complete cleansing of the soul. We should attend a Church where they are being fully obedient to the desires of Jesus in His instructions to Saint Faustina in order to receive the full gift of Mercy. Jesus made the following quite clear:
(1) That the Feast should be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter
(2)We must prepare with a Novena of “Chaplets of Divine Mercy” beginning on Good Friday.
(3) On each day of this novena we should practice mercy in our lives in our words, deeds and prayers.
Merciful Word: forgiving or comforting someone.
Merciful Deed: is to carry out some work of mercy, or donate to a work of mercy, Merciful Prayer: to say prayers for someone in need of God’s Mercy