Sunday, April 7, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday Reflection

Divine Mercy Sunday was kind of a big deal at the Newman Center when I was in college. We'd have a blessing of the Divine Mercy image during Mass. Throughout the afternoon we'd have Confession and adoration. We would do the Divine Mercy Novena beforehand as long as we had school (Easter weekend was usually a three-day weekend).

So, what is Divine Mercy?

A saint and mystic named Faustina Kowalska wrote about her visions regarding God's mercy. Her main message was that God loves us regardless of our sins. We just need to be open to His boundless mercy and that mercy would overflow in us to the world around us. We need to trust His mercy unreservedly. Our sins and petty issues are nothing in the shadow of His love and mercy.

The Divine Mercy icon although at the bottom there is usually a banner saying "Jesus, I trust in you."
The icon was one of the first things that St. Faustina saw and Jesus told her to share it with everyone. As you can see, the icon is of Jesus. It shows blue-white coming from one side of His heart and red from the other, symbolizing the blood and water which came from His side on the cross. Devotion to this icon is supposed to bring blessings to the devoted person. But Jesus is clear in the vision: the graces don't come from the picture but from what the picture represents.
She was also inspired for the novena and the chaplet. A novena is (usually)  nine days of prayer. Each of the nine days of the novena have a special intention. In the case of the Divine Mercy novena they go as such:
  • Day 1: Pray for all mankind, especially sinners
  • Day 2: Pray for all priests and religious
  • Day 3: Pray for all devout and faithful souls
  • Day 4: Pray for those who do not believe in Jesus or do not yet know Him
  • Day 5: Pray for the souls of those who have left the Catholic Church
  • Day 6: Pray for meek and humble souls, including the souls of children
  • Day 7: Pray for the souls of those who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' Mercy
  • Day 8: Pray for the souls in purgatory
  • Day 9: Pray for those who have grown lukewarm in their faith
The chaplet is prayed on regular rosary beads.    
The image above of the rosary is borrowed from EWTN.
  1. You start it by praying one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Apostle's Creed.
  2. On the big beads you pray, "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
  3. On the little beads you pray, "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
  4. You end it by praying, "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
  5. The optional closing prayer is one of my favorite prayers of all time:
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
Divine Mercy Sunday was created by Pope John Paul II in 2000. The idea is that Catholics are given the opportunity to attend Mass, pray the chaplet and other Divine Mercy prayers, participate in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession during that day.

What about the readings?

I can't end this entry without talking about the Bible. The Gospel reading for today is John 20:19-31. This is a story of Jesus appearing to the disciples after His resurrection. In this story, Jesus says to his disciples, "Peace be with you." He breathes His spirit onto the disciples and he has an encounter with "doubting Thomas." I think that this Gospel reading is very appropriate in regards to Divine Mercy. Jesus' peace, His love and mercy, covers all sin. He tells Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Being a Christian means being in a relationship with Christ. A relationship requires trust. It takes a lot to trust someone you will never physically meet in this life (in the same way you meet your family or friends). And to know that that Person loves you more than you can imagine. Wow.

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