In 2000 Saint John Paul II placed into the Church’s liturgical calendar the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter. In so doing he confirmed devotion to Christ as the Divine Mercy, a devotion which flowed from visions of our Lord received by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun whom Saint John Paul II also canonized on April 30, 2000.
Today’s Gospel tells us, appropriately, of the Divine Mercy. Jesus’ passion and death was an act of Divine Mercy. His was a sacrificial death offered for the forgiveness of sins. With his resurrection from the dead, his victory over sin and death is complete. Saint Peter speaks of this connection in today’s Second Reading: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” There seems to be a sense of urgency about Jesus in the narrative of today’s Gospel, which tells of his first appearance to his disciples on the very evening of the resurrection: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.…Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Catholic Tradition regards this event as the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, through which Jesus has given the Church the power to forgive sins in his name. It is the sacrament of the Divine Mercy. For this gift our psalm refrain expresses our gratitude: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love is everlasting.”
The Divine Mercy Devotions for the Chippewa Falls Deanery were scheduled to be held at Saint Joseph Church in Boyd beginning at 1:00 PM this Sunday with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and concluding with Benediction at 4:00, but under the current circumstances they have had to be cancelled. However, there is no reason why you cannot observe those hours in your home by praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. EWTN has special programming beginning at 11:00 this Sunday morning. You can find the EWTN programming schedule at EWTN. I will be available in St. Charles Church this Sunday afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 for confessions. Here are the links to the two YouTube videos that were going to be played this Sunday: https://youtu.be/_JCBV-CBWFQ and https://youtu.be/--FAPj1uuho. You may watch them at your leisure.
In a decree dated August 3, 2002, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced that in order “to ensure that the faithful would observe this day (Divine Mercy Sunday) with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence…so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbor, and after they have obtained God’s pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters.”
A plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g., “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)
This Sunday a second collection is traditionally taken up throughout our diocese for the support of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. There is an envelope in your envelope packet for this collection. Please take this opportunity to support them and the many ways in which they contribute to the work of the Church in our diocese.
Continue to pray the Rosary this week for all who are experiencing turmoil in their lives for whatever reason, especially because of all the disruption caused by the current crisis. Pray for all who are vulnerable or struggling with illness, and for the people who care for them. Pray for the end of this pandemic; and, as always, pray for peace. Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Corona and Saint Rocco, pray for us!
May God bless his people with peace.