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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Divine Mercy Sunday April 7: Prepare by Beginning the Divine Mercy Novena on Good Friday
Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) was instituted by Pope John Paul II at the request, posthumously, of Saint Faustina, in her writings - of whom he held a close prayerful friendship with throughout his entire seminary and priestly life. He would talk to her at her grave site as a young man, touched by her life, death at a young age, and especially, at the inspirations of which she had such passion. Her tender intercession for him may have been one reason why he became Pope. He was able to honor her in return by beatifying her (2000) before his death and launching Divine Mercy Sunday. His death came just one day before this holy day - with the entire world praying for him that day, then for mercy upon the world the next within the context of one of his greatest papal masterpieces - initiating this most exquisite day of mercy overflowing from Jesus' heart, or BEAMING as powerful rays, into the hearts of all people of the world. (note: Also see the attached link above -the third one, for a wonderful meditation on Holy Saturday by Pope Emeritus Benedict).
If you have never done a Divine Mercy "pilgrimage," this would be the year to do it! You cannot help but become a new creation. On the same day you do all of the following: mass ( Holy Communion), the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Confession, the Rosary, listening time in Eucharistic Adoration, the Stations of the Cross, singing, - simply spending an entire day with the Lord, continuously praying for His mercy upon yourself, your family, your community, your country, your Church, and your world. Physically you feel very different afterward, perhaps because it is so strenuous. Also, perhaps Jesus' "high-beam" rays of mercy penetrate to the deepest recesses of our souls to reveal concealed fear, pain, and sin at the root of of our sometimes dark and ugly thoughts. Perhaps a lifetime of meditating on and contemplating this concept and image of Christ's mercy in high beam rays of light is what inspired Pope John Paul II in the creation of the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. It certainly sounds that way!
Fr. Barron, in his Catholicism series explains that all that makes one a saint is this - to know one's sinfulness. This is a day to be honest with yourself. The length of this pilgrimage leaves no stone unturned if we are open and willing to work at it, truly humbling ourselves. The floodlights of His mercy then, in laser-light surgery fasion, removes past sin, lingering guilt, and negative habitual thinking patterns that are not part of His plan for you or for the salvation of the world. His Transfiguration intensity of mercy sheds light on His word as well, on Himself, the Word, opening our minds to His teachings and way in the world. He floods us with Himself.
Even though a difficult, arduous prayer road, this day of pilgrimage is nothing compared to the pilgrimage trips others have taken throughout history! If you find a church that has only parts of it for only a couple of hours, find another to go to after. Plan on spending about 4-6 hours or more, even if you have to find two different churches. The best is to have at least an hour after to simply listen to our Lord in regards to our lives, letting Him simply hold you in His arms and love you.
Just as importantly, if you start the Divine Mercy Novena (nine days of prayer) on Good Friday, it helps to prepare you spiritually for Easter as well as for the feast of Divine Mercy - to have the most effective impact.
What Jesus did tonight, Holy Thursday, and tomorrow (the way of the Cross), make up the greatest outpouring of mercy into the world, no doubt. Imagine Him washing tenderly the feet of the one who would betray Him (turning their feet this way then that), ... of offering and breaking the bread, His own Body, for those who will soon scatter at His most dire hour of need. Picture Him taking on the slicing nails that never stop slicing as those wounds hold up His body weight for hours. His love and mercy are far more powerful and steady than any ugliness we can throw at Him. This 9-day novena continues that theme throughout the Octave of Easter, of empyting Himself for us; thus, we too work toward emptying ourselves of sin and doubt. Talk about getting cleaned out! How to pray this novena leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday is in two links at the top of this article. Walk with our Lord on Calvary and to the Resurrection. Allow His love and mercy to wash over you and wash over the world.
SPEAKING OF EASTERTIDE (an added note later): Here are some exerpts from Pope Francis' first Easter homily:
"What does it mean that Jesus has risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom..."
"So this is the invitation that I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ's Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world ... Middle East ... Africa ... Mali ... Congo ... Nigeria ... Central African Republic ... Korean peninsula ...[He goes into more detail about each]."
"May the risen Christ guide you and all humanity on the paths of justice, love and peace!"