A Look at Divine Mercy Sunday

Two Sundays ago, we celebrated Easter. But the celebration did not end on April 24th, it continues. There are currently two liturgical celebrations that last for eight days (Octaves). One is Christmas and the other is Easter. Easter is the feast of feasts, the solemnity of solemnities and it runs from Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter (also known as “Low Sunday”) – indeed, the entire Easter Season lasts for seven weeks.

The Second Sunday of Easter is also known as the Feast of the Divine Mercy

On May 5, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments issued a decree which proclaimed the Second Sunday of Easter to be known also as Divine Mercy Sunday. So, on this Second Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2011 – as we have done since the decree – we remembered and celebrated the Lord’s Divine Mercy. Some parishes offered an additional “Divine Mercy” Mass, but these Masses used the readings and prayers of the Second Sunday of Easter.

All of this came about through the visions of and messages from Jesus Christ given to St. Faustina beginning in 1924 before she entered religious life as a sister. Blessed John Paul II, of happy memory, was instrumental in promoting the Divine Mercy devotions and feast and the cause of sainthood for St. Faustina. This has brought great joy to the Church.

And now we have Blessed John Paul II officially beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2011! All praise, honor and glory be to God!

The Lord reminds us that we are to be merciful if we expect to receive His mercy. He told Sr. Faustina, “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first by deed, the second by word, and the third by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.”

This message is for each of us and is a reminder to perform the works of mercy, particularly as traditionally taught by the Church.

Corporal Works of Mercy

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To shelter the homeless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

It is important to note that not all of us are competent to or the appropriate party to perform especially the first three of the Spiritual Works. So we need to discern how the Lord is calling us to be merciful in each case.  But we can always pray. Jesus has given us forms of prayer and veneration for the Devotion of Divine Mercy. He has given us His image of Divine Mercy to venerate. He has given us a Novena of Divine Mercy that can be prayed anytime but in a particular way is to be said on the nine days that end on the Second Sunday of Easter each year. He asks us to remember His great self-giving in His act of Mercy on the Cross at the 3 o’clock hour of mercy each day. This can be a powerful moment of prayer, especially on Fridays of the year.

But my favorite prayer given to us by the Lord for this devotion is the Divine Mercy Chaplet which I like to pray before His image of Divine Mercy.  It is a most powerful prayer because He asks that we pray it with a merciful heart that is in solidarity with all those He loves who have so great a need to know His mercy. Do you have loved ones or friends who are not active in their faith, pray the chaplet for them. Whatever the needs of the people God has placed in your life, pray the chaplet for them. It will bring them and you great joy and peace.

And remember what the Lord instructed Sr. Faustina, now Saint Faustina, to remind us to say: “Jesus, I Trust in You!”

Into the deep…

Visit the Divine Mercy website of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception for more information.

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About the Author

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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