Pastoral Notes

A rather new addition to the calendar originated from a vision a Polish nun had of Jesus    

It is not very often in the Church when a new liturgical feast is  established that is not associated with a saint’s feast day. It happens  very rarely and is never done lightly. However, in 2000, Saint John  Paul II canonized the Polish religious mystic Faustina Kowalska and  during his homily officially renamed the Second Sunday of Easter  “Divine Mercy Sunday.”    

John Paul II did this to endorse Faustina’s visions as well as to  put more emphasis on Divine Mercy in the 21st century. He ex- plained during his  homily , “Divine Mercy reaches human beings  through the heart of Christ crucified: ‘My daughter, say that I am love  and mercy personified,’ Jesus will ask Sr. Faustina (Diary, p. 374).  Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the  Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love’s  ‘second name’ (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its  deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the  burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for for- giveness? Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and wit- ness of Sr. Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God  for our time ... Jesus told Sr Faustina: ‘ Humanity will not find peace  until it turns trustfully to divine mercy’  ( Diary,  p. 132).”    

The Polish pope then went on to proclaim, “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.’”   

Traditionally the Second Sunday of Easter was nicknamed Low Sunday, in contrast to the Hi gh Sun- day of Easter. In the Middle Ages it was known as  Quasimodo  (“In the manner of”) Sunday, from the Latin  words that began the Introit: “As newborn babes desire milk” (1 Peter 2: 2). It was on this day that Victor  Hugo’s fictional hunchback infant was abandoned on the steps of Notre Dame Cathedral, a nd given the name  Quasimodo — which can also mean “half-formed.” The last day of the Easter Octave, this Sunday has always  featured the Gospel of “Doubting Thomas.” This particular Gospel is often said t o remind us of the need to  enter into Jesus’ heart to be washed clean through his mercy.    

Jesus requested that this Second Sunday of Easter be named “Divine Mercy Sunday ” in a vision to Saint Faustina that she wrote down in her  Diary . 

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I  desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day  t he very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those sou ls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain  complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow  are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that  no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.  Everything that exists has  come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate  My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My ver y depths of tenderness. It is  My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.  Mankind will not have peace until it  turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699) Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must  also be deeds of mercy, which are to  arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not  shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)                                                                                                                                    

Philip Kosloski, Aleteia