Second Sunday of Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday”

April 11, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Resurrexit, sicut dixit! Alleluia! As we continue the celebration of the Octave of Easter I want to thank everyone who contributed to making this Lent and Triduum such a wonderful time in our parish, and recognize a few who made special contributions. First of all, I give thanks to Our Lord Jesus and His Father and Holy Spirit, of course for their salvific work on the Cross and in the Resurrection, but also for the many graces they bestowed on us during this time. I also give thanks to all of you for your active participation in the Lenten observances of our parish, especially during the Triduum, and particularly on Good Friday (once again, a packed, standing room only, church for the 3pm Veneration of the Cross).

I also want to recognize the work of our choir, cantors and organists, and especially our Music Director, Elisabeth Turco. All during Lent they put in hours of extra practice, and this bore special fruit in the beautiful music of Sundays and the Triduum. In some parishes music is an afterthought, and in others music dominates the liturgy. But we are truly blessed to have a music program that strives and succeeds at truly serving and complementing the liturgy, seeking, like Mary, to be “the handmaid of the Lord” present in the Church’s Liturgy.

I also want to compliment and thank the altar servers, led this year by Mr. Jacob McCrumb as MC. I was delighted to see all the boys and young men that volunteered for the Masses during the Triduum and Easter Day, especially the 28 servers on Holy Thursday. I continue to receive compliments about their reverence, devotion and attention to detail. I was very proud of them all, from the youngest boy having his feet washed for the first time, to the oldest senior server who stepped up to make things work so well. It is true that I sincerely hope, and believe, that we will have several priestly vocations from this group of servers; but I also believe that their devout service of Jesus, especially during these holy days, will contribute greatly to making many good husbands and fathers in the future.

Thanks also to the folks who decorated the church, especially the “flower ladies,” Julie Mullen and Rosario Méndez. Also, Nena Brennan, our sacristan, and her family who spent untold hours setting things up before and after celebrations. Thanks to all the lectors, headed by Phil Bettwy, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, headed by Barbara Aldridge. Also, thanks to the ushers, headed by Paul DeRosa. Thanks to Bob and Bev Ward for all their dedicated work in running the RCIA program. Thanks to all the groups who ran the Soup Suppers, and to the kids in the Youth Apostolate, led by Jeanne Sause, for volunteering at every turn to help out. Thanks also to the parish staff for all their good work.

Finally, thanks to Fr. Kenna, especially for his yeoman work in hearing confessions. And to all the other priests who heard confessions or offered Mass, especially Fr. Daly and Fr. Scalia. Thanks to Fr. Bjorn Lundberg for his help at the Easter Vigil in chanting the Exsultet.

Divine Mercy Sunday. This Second Sunday in the Octave of Easter is also known as “Divine Mercy Sunday.” This title is relatively new, having been established only in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II, in recognition of the ineffable mercy that flows to all mankind from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. The Pope was inspired to make this designation by the claims of the polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska that Jesus Himself had requested this during His private apparitions to her during the 1930s. During those apparitions the Lord reportedly also told St. Faustina: “I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the 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.” Although private apparitions/revelations such as this need not be believed or accepted by Catholics, they are often recognized by the Church as “worthy of belief.” That is so in this case, and the private promises of remission of punishment on this Sunday have been echoed by the Church which has officially established a plenary indulgence for this Sunday:

“…granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)”

[Note: In answer to the question as to when you must go to confession to receive the indulgence, the Church has officially decreed: “within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.” For a good, brief explanation of indulgences in general I recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471ff.]

This Sunday will always have a second meaning for me, one that is rather bittersweet. It was 10 years ago that Pope John Paul II died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. Now, of course, he is known by all as St. John Paul II. When I remember the day of his death 10 years ago, I can’t help but remember the sadness of that day. But I also remember that in him we have a great friend in heaven, who intercedes for us today, and who, by the mercy of God, has left us with a wealth of magisterial teaching, especially on the true meaning of divine mercy, not to mention marriage, family and sexuality, that is so important for the world today.

Easter Continues. Of course the Season of Easter continues until Pentecost Sunday, May 24. This extended liturgical season reminds us not only of the historical reality of the Risen Christ’s physical presence on earth after the Resurrection, but also of the ongoing importance of the Resurrection to all of us. In the midst of all the sins, temptations, sufferings, and fears of life—and today there are many—we keep our hearts fixed on the fact and grace of the Resurrection. Christ has died and risen, conquering evil, and mercifully offering us the chance, by our ongoing choices, to share in that victory. The power of the Risen Christ remains for us, if only we will choose to accept it by the moral lives we lead, the love we have for Him and our neighbor, and the faith we hold dear.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles