The glorious celebration of Easter continues as we complete the Easter Octave. This means that we "stretched out" Easter Sunday for seven more days. Christ is raised from the dead, conquering sin and death. The Easter Season continues up until Pentecost.
Again, I cannot thank everyone who helped with our Holy Week Services and Easter Masses enough. They were grand; and so are you.
Here’s an interesting trivia fact: The original entrance hymn (Introit) on the first Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday) is taken from I Peter: 2:2—"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk…" In Latin, this is: "Quasi modo geniti infantes." The famous fictional "hunchback of Notre Dame" was said to have been abandoned as a newborn in the cathedral in Paris on Low Sunday—Quasimodo Sunday. Hence, his name, Quasimodo! Yes, I am an endless source of useless information!
Today, Sunday, April 22nd, is Divine Mercy Sunday. Many of us have become familiar with this feast, which focuses on the Divine Mercy of God—His loving forgiveness and understanding for those who sincerely seek His love.
This devotion was inspired by a Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. She was born in Poland in 1905, entered the convent in 1926, and died in 1938. During her lifetime, Sister Faustina reported visions of our Lord, including one that inspired the painting of the now familiar image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy—"Jesus, I trust in You."
After her death, her spiritual diaries were found. She had written much about what has now come to be known as The Divine Mercy Devotion. As she had predicted, the message and the devotion fell upon hard times with Church authorities and promotion of the message was once prohibited. This was partly because when her Sisters began to transcribe her spiritual diary, they introduced many inaccuracies by adding to, leaving out, or "correcting" what she wrote. Keep in mind that she had only two winters of formal education, so her spelling was atrocious. Combined with poor grammar, it was a difficult task. It was all done in "good faith" and translating the diary into other languages further complicated things.
When he was Cardinal-Archbishop of Cracow, Pope John Paul II came to the rescue. He asked one of his top theologians to make a thorough study of Sister Faustina’s writings. As a result, the road was opened to the promotion of the Divine Mercy Devotion.
Last year at this time, Pope John Paul II formally canonized Sister Faustina as a saint of the Catholic Church. She was beatified in 1993. She is the first saint of the new millennium. At the same time, the Holy Father proclaimed Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast for the universal Church on the Sunday following Easter Sunday.
The very first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis opened nearly eleven years ago under the title, Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel. It’s adjacent to Cardinal Ritter High School and Saint Michael Church, at 30th and Tibbs on the West side.
At many parishes, including Saint Michael, there will be the annual observance of Divine Mercy. At 3:00 p.m. the service begins. It is not a Mass. It consists of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the "Divine Mercy Chaplet," a series of short prayers using a regular rosary, a sermon, and a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. I will be the main celebrant for this observance (at Saint Michael) and invite you all to attend.
Keep in mind that one need not receive the Sacrament of Penance only on Divine Mercy Sunday. No, just sometime during Lent or the Easter Season. I once heard someone object to the emphasis on sin and reconciliation on the Sunday right after Easter. "After all these confessions during Lent! Isn’t Easter a joyful season?" Well, the Gospel for today’s Mass (Low Sunday) is the place in Scripture where Jesus gives the apostles and His Church to power to forgive sin. Sin and forgiveness are not confined to one liturgical season or another.
I think it’s great to emphasize the Sacrament of Penance during Lent and Advent. But to confine it to those two seasons doesn’t make any sense. That’s one of the reasons for the misunderstanding described in that goofy article about confessions in The Indianapolis Star last month. We need God’s mercy 365 days a year. The Divine Mercy is always ours!
Faithfully yours in God’s Providence,
Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel