April 14, 2012

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

The Feast of Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Sunday, is a special grace.  Blessed John Paul II established this celebration on second Sunday of the Easter Octave.  Divine Mercy was so important in his ministry to the Church, he wrote an encyclical on it.  He also canonized St. Faustina Kowalska on this same feast.  She was the Polish mystic who promoted devotion to Divine Mercy just prior to World War II.  Blessed John Paul also died on the very eve of this feast day.  Last year, Pope Benedict beatified him on this day.

Calling to mind all these connections, it is easy to see why many consider Blessed John Paul II an apostle of Divine Mercy.  Prior to his death, John Paul II consecrated the Shrine to Divine Mercy in the Krakow neighborhood of Lagiewniki.  The Shrine is adjacent to the convent where St. Faustina died and it is not far from the labor camp where he worked during the war while secretly in formation for the priesthood.  In his homily consecrating the Shrine, the Pope of Mercy helps us see how the mystery of mercy in prayer converges on the power of the Holy Spirit and the Cross of Christ:

It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth, who guides us along the ways of Divine Mercy. By convincing the world "concerning sin and righteousness and judgement" (Jn 16,8), he also makes known the fullness of salvation in Christ. This "convincing" concerning sin is doubly related to the Cross of Christ. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit enables us, through Christ's Cross, to acknowledge sin, every sin, in the full dimension of evil which it contains and inwardly conceals. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit permits us, again through the Christ's Cross, to see sin in the light of the mysterium pietatis, that is, of the merciful and forgiving love of God (cf. Dominum et Vivificantem, 32).  Consequently, this "convincing concerning sin" also becomes a conviction that sin can be laid aside and that man can be restored to his dignity as a son beloved of God. Indeed, the Cross "is the most profound condescension of God to man [...]. The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man's earthly existence" (Dives in Misericordia, 8).

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