I can clearly remember the first time I was introduced to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I was spending the afternoon with a friend and she asked me if I wanted to pray this prayer that she loved. It was 3pm. Once she taught me the order and the call and response, we began to pray. I remember thinking 'Wow! I love this prayer! It's like the rosary but shorter!' Just what I needed. Then I heard this prayer sung on Catholic radio. 'I can sing this thing, too?!' I thought. Yep, it was the perfect prayer. It was long enough to make me holy but short enough to enjoy.
My intentions were good but I was missing the whole point. I wasn't really capturing the beauty and depth of this prayer. To be honest, I needed a better understanding of God's mercy. As it turned out, this prayer brought me into a long period of seeking out the answers to a lot of my questions and seeking out the truths to a lot of lies I believed.
I used to think that diving into God's mercy was almost unfair. I knew I didn't deserve it. I felt like I was taking advantage of His love. In shame, I'd hide my face from Him. I wouldn't talk to Him as much and twice, it caused me to stay home from Mass because I didn't feel worthy to go.
Why Divine Mercy Sunday?
Even if this blog were a million pages long, I could never come close to describing the mercy of Jesus. This coming Sunday is a feast all about diving into the mercy of our Lord. In a statement made on May 23, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments declared that “Throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.”
Divine Mercy Sunday was granted as a feast to the whole Church by Bl. Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000. That's the same day St. Faustina was canonized. St. Faustina was a young Polish nun who lived a very simple, humble life of service. Jesus appeared to her and spoke to her about His mercy. In many of Jesus' revelations to St. Faustina, He urged that there be a day dedicated to the Divine Mercy. The following quote is from the diary of St. Faustina, quoting Jesus.
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy . . . The Feast of Mercy emerged from the very depths of My tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. (Diary 699)
We are encouraged to perform deeds of mercy, stemming out of a love for God. Maybe it's being merciful to a friend or family member who may have upset us. We are also encouraged to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation, receive Holy Communion, and recite an Our Father and the Creed on this day to obtain the graces of the plenary indulgence.
Mercy Means Freedom
Over the years I've come to love this day. What an amazing opportunity to receive grace! God offers us His grace and mercy every day, especially through the Eucharist. Because the tomb is empty, we have freedom. When Jesus descended into Hell he took sin and shame with Him. He left them there, where they belong. It is because Jesus rose that we are free. God's mercy is so big.
St. John Vianney put it beautifully when he said, 'Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.'
Reflect on the song 'Christ is Risen' by Matt Maher. The first lines in the song are my favorite because I can almost feel the chains breaking off of me: 'Let no one caught in sin remain, inside the lie of inward shame.'
Brothers and sisters, embrace the mercy of Christ. Feel His hand lift up your head. Feel His light hit you. Remember, this great love and mercy calls for a response. God doesn't pour out His mercy so that we can continue to sin. He pours it out so we can come back to Him. Let’s strive to be holy! Happy Easter!