Sunday, April 15, 2007

Think Globally, Act Mercifully.

Today was Divine Mercy Sunday in the Roman calendar. It is a world-class holy day, despite having only been celebrated universally in the Roman communion for the last six years. Our local Catholic paper was packed with a list of over two dozen local celebrations.

There was an all afternoon event at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and I attended Exposition and Mass at Divine Mercy parish in Faribault. Good music, great preaching, opportunity for confession and prayer.

Divine Mercy Sunday is world-class in more ways than one. It's really all about the world.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,

Divine Mercy is about spreading God's mercy, his everlasting grace and love, to the whole world. It's not only about accepting God's mercy for ourselves, it's also about sharing that mercy by being merciful to others.

Yet that message seems buried in the historical circumstances surrounding Divine Mercy. God chose to reveal this powerful message in the most unusual way.... by locution and vision to a Polish nun.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (canonized in 2000) received these messages in the early 1930's, as a harbinger of and defense against the shadow of totalitarianism then falling across the world. In fact, a young underground seminarian, the future Pope John Paul II, labored near her burial place and prayed in her local parish church during the war's darkest days. Hence, his strong devotion to Divine Mercy, on the eve of whose feast he died in 2005.

The pictorial depiction of Divine Mercy is a strange amalgamation, part Sunday school Jesus, part Sacred Heart, but totally reflective of Christ-centered piety with its tagline prayer emblazoned across the bottom, "Jesus, I trust in you!" The two fold stream, white for water and red for blood, recalls the piercing of Christ's side at the Crucifixion. Baptism and Eucharist, flowing from Christ, sheds God's love abroad in the world.

The world needs that mercy today more than ever. We need God's long lasting love to invade our poor little lives and to overflow to those around us.

Here is the opening prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the opening to a set of brief given by our Lord to be prayed each day at 3:00.m., the hour of His death, the hour of great mercy:

You expired, Jesus,
but the source of life gushed forth for souls,
and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.
O Fount of Life,
unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world
and empty yourself out upon us.

No comments: