Dear Lord, have mercy on us! Today the church throughout the world celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday and we certainly need it now! Some friends of mine, Marlene & Lothar, who live in West Chicago, but grew up in Germany during World War II e-mailed me on Palm Sunday saying “We are practicing social distancing, a challenge, but for the better. Yes, we are living in trying times. Both Lou and I are children of WWII, even during that trying time we had our House of Worship to go to, we felt safe there, it was a comforting shelter. However, 75 – 80 years later Churches are closed because of this invisible enemy, Covid-19. But we must not lose our Faith, God is there, God listens, God gives us words.” I would add that His mercy is always there too! So while we can’t come to church to celebrate Divine Mercy this year, I invite you to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at home.
The Divine Mercy celebration developed with the apparitions of Jesus to Saint Faustina Kowalska. The venerated image under this Christological title refers to what Sr. Faustina’s diary describes as “God’s loving mercy” towards all people, especially for sinners. Sr. Faustina reported a number of apparitions during religious ecstasy which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The two main themes of the devotion are to trust in Christ’s endless goodness, and to show mercy to others acting as a conduit for God’s love towards them.
Trusting in God’s endless goodness and mercy can at times be a challenge. Many of us grew up in a time where we believed that we had to earn God’s mercy and never deserved God’s mercy. We are right in knowing that we do not deserve God’s mercy, but we are wrong in thinking that we can earn it. God’s mercy is freely given. God’s mercy removes the punishment we deserve for sin. All we have to do is ask for it, and trust that God IS mercy. Receiving his Divine Mercy calls us to extend mercy to others.
For me, the words of Dag Hammerskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations (1953 through 1961), written in his diary Markings sums it all up: “Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive. In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us – we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others.”
Let us bless God for His Divine Mercy!