A FEAST ON THE SUNDAY AFTER EASTER?
COULD THIS HAVE BEEN GOD'S PLAN ALL ALONG?
The Feast of Mercy or Divine Mercy
Sunday has been celebrated in many countries, dioceses and parishes for
many years. Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals, Bishops and Priests who have read the diary of St. Faustina have come to realize the significance of this feast. But now, ever since the Holy See had
decreed that the "Second Sunday of Easter would be known as Divine Mercy
Sunday," many more are seeking to go more deeply into the words of Our Lord
to St. Faustina that were meant for all humanity.
OUR LORD'S DESIRE?
First of all, we must understand that this Feast of Mercy is no one else's idea, but Our Lord's. Fourteen times in the
Diary of St. Faustina (Divine Mercy In My Soul) Our Lord is quoted as requesting a "Feast of Mercy." This is why Our Holy Father John Paul
II had proclaimed, "I give thanks to divine Providence that I have been enabled to contribute personally to the fulfillment of Christ's will, through the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy." Our Lord also insisted that it be celebrated on
a specific day - the Sunday after Easter!
EARLY CHURCH WRITINGS
That's not all. If we look at the earliest liturgical document in existence credited to the
Apostles (The Apostolic Constitutions), Book 5, Chapter 19, we find the apostle St.
Thomas strongly urging "after eight days [following the Feast of Easter] let there
another feast observed with honor, the eighth day itself on which He [Jesus] gave me Thomas, who was hard of belief, full assurance, by showing me the print of the nails, and the wound made in His side by the spear."
SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
One of the goals of the Second Vatican Council was to complete our liturgical year celebrations and have them match our Old Testament feast. This Feast of Mercy is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement (see Lv 16, Lv 23:29-32 and Sir 50) which was an annual feast where all sins and punishment were washed away. The Feast of Mercy is an annual celebration, which, as Jesus revealed, also has the promise of the total forgiveness of sins and punishment. Our Lord Jesus said,
"The soul that will go to
Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete
forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which
graces flow are opened." (Diary, 699)
Even the liturgical readings for that day (the Second Sunday/Octave of Easter) are
already perfect for the feast. They speak of the blood and water that was poured out from our Savior's heart and about the sacraments of Baptism and Confession, and about His mercy. We can see the
work of the Holy Spirit in their preservation. The Gospel recalls Jesus entering the Upper Room and bestowing on the Apostles the power to forgive sins and then the incident with St. Thomas finally trusting in Our Lord. We can see why Jesus insisted that the
image of Divine Mercy (with the two rays signifying the blood and water and with the inscription, Jesus, I Trust In You) be
solemnly blessed and publicly venerated on that day. Our Lord said,
"By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces to souls, so let every soul have access to it." (Diary, 570)
WHY CELEBRATE THIS FEAST?
St. Faustina commented to Our Lord: "They (her superiors) tell me that there is already such a feast and so why should I talk about it?"
Jesus answered: "And who knows anything about this feast? No one! Even those who should be proclaiming My mercy
and teaching people about it often do not know about it themselves. That is why I want
the image to be solemnly blessed on the First Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be
venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it."
(Diary 341) St. Faustina wrote,
"It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it has been dormant in
it from long ago." (Diary, 378) Isn't this feast just what we need to bring hope and healing to
our alienated and lapsed Catholics and for our Church in this time of unrest and uncertainty?
Parishes have responded positively when asked about celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday. Many are having all day celebrations including Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Many priests are graciously offering to hear Confessions, all day, if need be. However,
with the new plenary indulgence that was recently granted, one could possibly go to confession during Lent. But, one must be in the
state of grace to receive Our Lord worthily in Holy Communion. It would be impossible for priests to hear everyone's Confession on that day. God
would not demand the impossible. We must focus on those that have not gone
Decree establishing Divine Mercy Sunday issued by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on May 5th 2000.
If you would like more information about the Apostolic Constitutions go to
the site, www.newadvent.org/fathers/07155.htm and proceed to chapter
19, bottom of 2nd paragraph.
I am available to present seminars, presentations or talks. I have been a promoter since I first read the Diary in 1995.
I received graces on Mercy Sunday and would like to share these with others and to encourage everyone to evangelize using Divine Mercy Sunday.
|Robert R. Allard, Director
Apostles of Divine Mercy
Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My
Soul (c) 1987 Congregation of Marians of the
Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, MA 01263. All
Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
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