‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’

| Father Michael Van Sloun | April 26, 2011 | 0 Comments

Divine Mercy Sunday to be celebrated May 1

Divine MercyThe Second Sunday of Easter is now also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It ranks as a solemnity, and it is the eighth and final day of the Octave of Easter. Divine Mercy Sunday was established by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000.

The day’s patron

St. Maria Faustina (1905-1938) is known as the apostle of Divine Mercy. She was born on a small farm in Glogowiec, Poland, on Aug. 25, 1905, the third of 10 children. Her family was poor and eked out a meager existence. Times were hard, and they took a terrible turn for the worse during World War I.

At the young age of 19 she joined a community of religious sisters, the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. With only three years of formal education, she humbly and graciously accepted her community’s request to serve as a gardener, kitchen assistant and doorkeeper.

She had a deep faith and a rich inner spiritual life. She died from tuberculosis on Oct. 5, 1938 at the convent in Krakow.

Sister Faustina was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 18, 1993, and canonized a saint by him on April 30, 2000.

Mercy message

Jesus appeared to St. Faustina on Feb. 22, 1931, and numerous additional times until her death in 1938. The messages she received coincide with the Easter message.

When the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples barricaded in the Upper Room, he said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19,21), and he continued, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (John 20:23a) — both powerful messages of mercy and forgiveness.

The devotion has four elements. The first is the image of Jesus that St. Faustina received. In it, Jesus is dressed in a long white robe, his right hand is raised in blessing, his left hand points to his wounded Sacred Heart, with two rays shining forth, light for the world — one red, the other white mixed with blue, which represent the blood and water that flowed from his side — with the inscription below, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

The second element is Jesus’ request to establish a feast that celebrates his merciful forgiveness of sins and the remission of punishment.

The third is a request that people pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a prayer that is said on rosary beads and repeats the words, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and the whole world.”

The fourth is a request for daily prayer at 3 p.m., the hour of Jesus’ death, the “hour of mercy,” an ideal time to ask for divine mercy.

Observance ideas

A nine-day novena of prayer beginning on Good Friday may be made to prepare for Mercy Sunday — May 1 this year.

On Aug. 3, 2002, Pope John Paul II announced that a plenary indulgence — the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven — is available to those who observe the Divine Mercy feast with a sacramental confession, the reception of Holy Communion, a prayer for the pope and his intentions, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and a devout prayer to the Lord Jesus such as, “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you.”

It is also desirable to pray before the Blessed Sacrament or venerate an image of Divine Mercy. Then, after a person has received mercy from God, the goal is to venture forth, show mercy to one’s neighbor, and perform works of mercy. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.

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Category: The Lesson Plan