Divine Floodgates are Wide-open on Divine Mercy Sunday
This has been one of the most difficult for many to accept and understand about the Feast of Mercy, now called Divine Mercy Sunday. The Church, since the Jubilee Year 2000, has been celebrating this feast, but the acceptance and understanding of it, has not been quick enough.
Our dearly beloved Saint Pope John Paul II wrote his last and final statement from his death bed that he prepared to be read on (Divine Mercy Sunday), which came to be the very day after his passing. In it he expressed to the world the great importance and the urgency to understand and accept Our Lordís incredible gift of Divine Mercy. He said to all the people of the world:
"As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace.
How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!
Lord, who reveal the Fatherís love by Your Death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to YouÖ
Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world. Amen."
Saint Pope John Paul II, not only died on this feast, but his final words, that he had prepared to be read on Divine Mercy Sunday, called for a greater understanding and acceptance of Divine Mercy, and, no doubt, he was calling, in particular, for a greater acceptance and understanding that the Divine Floodgates of Divine Mercy are wide-open on the exact day that our Lord Himself had chosen; the Octave Day of Easter, the grand finale of the Easter feast.
If you were to follow the life of Pope John Paul II since he entered the underground seminary, you would see that the Lord was guiding him all the way for the task of developing the Feast of Divine Mercy. During the German occupation in Poland, he had received papers to work in a limestone quarry that was next to Saint Faustina's tomb. There he learned of the message of Divine Mercy, just a few years after her death, in 1938, where many were praying for her intercession and were receiving miraculous results.
After he was shot in St. Peter's Square and recuperating in the hospital, he had the diary of St. Faustina read to him. Throughout his pontificate, he wrote of Divine Mercy and lived out that message in everything that he did. After establishing the Feast of Divine Mercy, he said that he was thankful for having contributed to the will of Christ by establishing that feast. During a dinner after canonizing St. Faustina and establishing Divine Mercy Sunday for the universal Church, he said that it was the happiest day of his life. Just five years later, he died on that feast! In 2011, he was beatified on that feast, and this year, he will be canonized on that feast. How much more clearly can the Holy Spirit scream at us of the importance of this feast?
So how can we better understand why the Lord has chosen this specific Sunday to open up the Divine Floodgates? If we look back into the Old Testament in Leviticus 16:29-34 and 23: 26-28, we will see that God demanded that Moses set a, once-a-year, day of atonement for the people to receive the forgiveness of their sins. The Day of Atonement was on the last day of a 10 day feast that the Jews still call the "High Holy Days" and the "10 Days of Awe".
God told Moses that this feast was to be for them the "Sabbath of Sabbaths" or another words, their greatest feast. It was for them "an annual preparation for the Judgment" and they looked forward to this feast every year. This feast is still celebrated by the Jews of today as Yom Kippur. So if God chose a special day of grace back in the Old Testament, why wouldn't He do the same for us, especially when the Old Testament points to the new? And isn't Easter our Sabbath of Sabbaths or our Feast of Feasts? The Church celebrates Easter for a full 8 days which culminates on the Octave Day of Easter, on the following Sunday.
If you count from Holy Thursday all the way to Divine Mercy Sunday, the Octave Day of Easter, you will have a full 10 days. Are not these 10 days, for us, the "High Holy Days" or the "10 Days of Awe"? The Church expects us to celebrate the feast of Easter for a full 8 days. That is why they have made all of those 8 days, between Easter and the Octave Day of Easter, solemnities, the highest form of celebration possible. No other feast, not even Christmas can match it.
Jesus made it very clear that He would pour out a whole ocean of graces on that day and that the Divine Floodgates would be wide-opened. Jesus promised that the soul that would go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, on that day, would receive the total forgiveness of all sins and punishment. If the Lord told His people, in the Old Testament, to prepare for an outpouring of graces on the Day of Atonement or the grand finale of a 10 day feast, why would it be so hard to understand and accept why He would want to do the same thing today?
Many parishes celebrate the Triduum and end the celebrations flatly on Easter Sunday. What a shame, when the Church has purposely set 8 straight days of solemnities that ends with a grand finale on the Octave Day of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Saint Pope John Paul II said that Divine Mercy was the Easter Gift. If Divine Mercy is the Easter Gift, then why are some parishes turning their backs on Jesus, and not inviting everybody, including the Easter only and fallen-away Catholics, to come back for the feast on the grand finale to receive the total forgiveness of all sins and punishment?
Just think, when we have carnivals and grand festivals that offer a grand prize, the grand prize is always drawn out on the last day or the grand finale. They don't draw it out on the opening day, but on the day of the grand opening, they will surely broadcast it, won't they, and they will continue to broadcast it throughout the entire feast. What Jesus is offering us, is nothing less than a "straight ticket to Heaven" and the Vatican has backed this up with a special plenary indulgence. Then why arenít we broadcasting this great gift like the Vatican is asking us to do? Why aren't we getting excited about this great gift and telling everyone about it?
A "straight ticket to Heaven"? What could be a more valuable gift? A multi-million dollar lottery prize could never come close. We are talking about eternal life in paradise! And get this; everybody can obtain it! Not just one winner; everybody can win it! So great a prize, and some parishes don't mention it? Actually the Vatican has made its proclamation mandatory. Doubt this? Read the very last paragraph of the Plenary Indulgence Decree for Divine Mercy Sunday and you will see it plainly. It is entitled "Duty of Priests: inform parishioners, hear confessions, lead prayers". Priests must follow these instructions; it is not an option.
I firmly believe that Saint Pope John Paul II decreed this special plenary indulgence because he firmly believed that the Divine Floodgates of Heaven are open on that day and he wanted everybody to take advantage of it. What could be a greater gift or what could be a greater tool for evangelization than this great day where we can receive a "straight ticket to Heaven"?
Jesus also promised that the worst sinners would receive the greatest amount of graces and that they would not be able to keep quiet about it. These sinners would have what is referred to as a born-again experience on that day and they would never forget it. Can you think of any other day that could easily yield such a great harvest? And this is not man's idea; the Lord has set this feast. All we need to do is follow the Church's instruction and guidance and Jesus will do the rest. I know this to be true; I was one of those poor sinners that received those incredible graces and I just can't keep quiet about it!
It is no accident that Pope Francis is also a Divine Mercy Pope and that he has put, on the fore-front of his pontificate, the urgency to reach out to poor sinners and to get out of our comforts zones and to go out and evangelize. And this is not anything new; Canon Law 771.2 clearly calls bishops and pastors to reach out to everyone that is within their territory, including non-believers, and to minister the Gospel to them, no less than they do for the faithful. Just think, if they provide daily Mass for the faithful, what should they be doing for everybody else?
Divine Mercy Sunday is Godís greatest tool for the New Evangelization!
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Robert R. Allard, Director
Apostles of Divine Mercy