(Divine Mercy Image © Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, MA 01263. www.thedivinemercy.org)
Divine Mercy Sunday – This Feast of Mercy is celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter. The Feast of Mercy has an important place among all of the elements of devotion to The Divine Mercy requested by our Lord through Sr. Faustina Kowalska. The Lord made 14 revelations concerning the desired feast.
In fact, Jesus Himself dictated the intentions for each day of the novena which he desired to be celebrated as a preparation for the solemn observance of this feast. Once after insisting, “Do all you possibly can for this work of mercy,” Jesus added: “My Heart rejoices on account of this feast.” Sister Faustina concluded: “After these words, I understood that nothing can dispense me from the obligation which the Lord demands of me”.
The “First Sunday after Easter” ‑ which is designated in “The Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist” as the “Octave Day of Easter” ‑ was officially called the Second Sunday of Easter after the liturgical reform of Vatican II. Now, by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the name of this liturgical day has been changed to: “Second Sunday of Easter, or of Divine Mercy.”
Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000. There, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’ “
By the words “the whole message,” the Holy Father was referring to the strict connection between the “Easter Mystery of the Redemption” ‑ the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, followed by the sending of the Holy Spirit ‑ and this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter.
By what the Holy Father continued to say, it becomes clear why Jesus insisted that the sacred image of Himself as The Divine Mercy is to be venerated throughout the world in connection with the observance of this Sunday (see Diary, 49, 88, 299, 341, 570, 742). The Holy Father said: “Before speaking these words, Jesus shows His hands and His side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.
“From that Heart, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that Heart and illuminating the world: ‘The two rays,’ Jesus Himself explained to her one day, ‘represent blood and water’ (Diary,299).
“Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a soldier on Calvary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it. Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3:5; 4:14; 7:37‑39).
“Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the Heart of Christ crucified: ‘Tell, My daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself Jesus will ask of Sr. Faustina. Christ pours out this mercy on humanity through the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person‑Love. And is not mercy love’s ‘second name’, understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its most immense capacity for forgiveness?”
Our Lord’s words to Saint Faustina about this requirement to be merciful are very strong and leave no room for misinterpretation:
“Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy … I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it”.
To fittingly observe the Feast of Mercy, we should:-
1. Celebrate the Feast on the Sunday after Easter;
2. Sincerely repent of all our sins;
3. Place our complete trust in Jesus;
4. Go to Confession, preferably before that Sunday;
5. Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast;
6. Venerate the Image of The Divine Mercy;
7. Be merciful to others, through our actions, words, and prayers on their behalf.
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