As Catholics, we know we are expected by the teachings of the Lord to love and offer hospitality to those in need. We are also called by our Lord to protect the innocent. Do these commands create an irresolvable tension when it comes to immigration and Islam? Listen to Dr. Troy Hinkel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mission for the Holy Family School of Faith offer principles of discernment for Catholics on this sensitive yet crucial issue.
Recorded live Friday, March 31st at Church of the Ascension.
I knew that Divine Mercy Sunday was always after Easter and that it was a day to recognize the victory won for us by the resurrection of Christ, but after hearing Fr. Alessandro talk about it during his homily on Easter where he said that Jesus wants to offer us “special graces” that will flow down on Divine Mercy Sunday and how we should participate in going to confession, I thought maybe there’s more to this feast day than I’m aware of. The more I started looking into it, I realized that I really had no idea what made this coming Sunday so important. I knew there was an image, a painting of the image that St. Faustina saw and that she had written a diary, but that’s about all I could come up with.
So What is Divine Mercy Sunday?
Well, Pope John Paul II declared that the Sunday immediately following Easter should be Divine Mercy Sunday. Why? Apparently in the 1930’s Jesus told St. Faustina, a nun from Poland, that not only should we celebrate a Feast of Mercy, but that it should be the Sunday after Easter. Pope John Paul II made this surprise announcement in a homily on May 5, 2000 when he Canonized St. Faustina who had written the messages that she was being given by the Lord.
If you’re being hard on yourself for not realizing that this feast day was important, you partly don’t know a lot about it because:
it’s relatively new as of the turn of the millennium
Catholics aren’t forced to believe in the visions of St. Faustina, they’re the tradition that the Feast is based on…but it’s not ALL that it’s based on.
Even back in the Old Testament we hear about the mercy of God, and then Jesus himself spread a message of our merciful Father who wants us to show mercy to the sick, the poor, the naked, the thirsty, etc. The ultimate act of Love demonstrated by Christ in dying on the Cross showed us that there’s no sin so great that can’t be forgiven by God if we chose to turn back to Him.
What Makes Divine Mercy Sunday So Special?
Reconciling with our Father is the biggest benefit of this Feast of Mercy. There are many ways to do so, but what marks this day so extraordinary is that there’s a Plenary Indulgence offered by The Church, a special one.
What’s The Difference Between A Plenary Indulgence & Going To Confession?
I’m glad you asked because I had to look it up myself! Here’s my understanding: when we are given absolution from our sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest says, “I absolve you from all of your sins”. As an ambassador or representative of Christ himself, we are forgiven in that very moment from our sins. (If you aren’t sure who gave them the right to do so, check out John 20:22 where Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the Disciples and tells them to go forgive sins). The Church says that after we confess, we are no longer separated from the love of God meaning we’ll go to heaven, but depending on what we did God might keep us in Purgatory for a little while. Yes, we’re reconciled in our relationship with God, however there could still be a temporal punishment where we need to be purified on our way to eternal life in communion with the Saints.
A Plenary Indulgence however, can eliminate even the temporal punishment, or time in purgatory. The Plenary Indulgence offered by The Church on Divine Mercy Sunday is unique because rather than being available for others or souls already in purgatory, it’s only available for yourself.
How Do We Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday And Get These Extraordinary Graces?
Go to confession on or before Divine Mercy Sunday
Attend Mass and receive the Eucharist
Participate in a Divine Mercy Prayer Service which will include adoration, praying the Creed, and a devotional prayer to our merciful Lord Jesus such as “Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!”
Ascension will host a prayer service at 3:00pm this Divine Mercy Sunday April 23rd, 2017 in the church where we will sing a Divine Mercy Chaplet, offer the sacrament of Reconciliation, and experience Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. All are welcome to attend!
Just as in Mass the few drops of water, which are poured into the chalice, are changed with the wine into Your Blood, O Lord, take my wretchedness, plunge it into your heart, make it disappear in you.
— Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
I gaze upon You on the altar in the adoration chapel, in the Blessed Sacrament where I know You dwell. Here, You are easy to encounter, clothed in austerity and humbly hidden beneath the element of bread. You make Yourself simple, that I might simply return to You. I long to join You in Your sacrifice, but once again I find my heart slow.
Lord, how I long to return to You with my whole heart. Your call is so simple, yet it confounds me. If I am honest, I see how easily my heart is divided. Over and over I run back to You like a child with arms open in simple trust. Yet I easily become distracted and wander off mid-course. I am lured away by my own want for comfort, or my own busyness and false sense of self-importance. Why am I so easily diverted from Your embrace? Why do these contrary desires pull me away from You, whom I desire above all else?
During Mass I try to place myself in with the communion gifts. I want to lay down my whole heart and my entire will; I want to offer myself with the bread and wine. In some small way I want to give myself up for You, as You have sacrificed Yourself for me. I hope that by this act I might give my whole heart to You, undivided, and that You might somehow transubstantiate me with You in Your consecration.
I look to the bread and wine, but find that I do not fit with them. How I long to be like the simple wafers, laid low in humility, without the slightest trace of leaven. I, who am often puffed up with pride, self-rising in my vanity – I am not lowly like the communion bread. How many great saints have hidden themselves with You here in humility? Like St. Therese of Lisieux, how many saints have found You in their smallness? I look to the wine and find that I cannot place myself in the chalice. I am not so grand, nor am I prized like the wine is. I am no more a great saint than I am a small one. I am not like St. George; I am not strong or bold enough to slay my own dragons.
My son nudges me just before the transubstantiation, with words that I know must come from Your divine prompting, Lord. He asks about the few drops of water that are poured into the chalice with the wine. He does not ask why water is added to the communion offering, nor does he ask what the water symbolizes. He simply wants to know where the water comes from. He goes on to elaborate, “Is it from the Holy Water font? Is it special water prepared and bottled by some religious order somewhere?” “No, I think it is just regular water,” I respond. “Like from the sink?” he asks. “I think so,” I say. “And it will be changed into Jesus too?” “Yes,” I answer. He concludes, “Well, that’s some lucky water.”
In these words, Lord, I hear Your simple invitation. If I am not as humble as the bread or as great as the wine, I can still offer myself to You, as ordinary as water. You reach out toward me again, and invite me to Your table. You ask me to participate, undeserving as I may be, in Your transubstantiation. Though I remain imperfect and divided, You make a way for me to return to You as I am, with my whole heart.