Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in Your Parish
New Divine Mercy Guide for Parishes
Several years ago, Diane Flynn wanted her fellow parishioners of St. Paul’s Church in Ramsey, N.J., to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus through the message of Divine Mercy.
With her pastor's permission she's placed articles in the parish bulletin, and she's distributed pamphlets and prayercards that explain the Divine Mercy message and devotion. To top it off, she's helped spearhead her parish's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, which is held on the Sunday after Easter.
She admits, it's been a lot of work.
A year ago, Mrs. Flynn began to think about the thousands of lay people and clergy around the world who, like her, are attempting to make Divine Mercy Sunday, and the message of Divine Mercy itself, more meaningful and a special blessing for their parishes. She thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a guide explaining how to do this?"
She approached the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who since 1941, have been the authentic promoters of The Divine Mercy message and devotion from their apostolic center located at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
Now, thanks to Mrs. Flynn, there is such a guide.
The Marians have written and published Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in Your Parish: A Practical Guide for Parishes. The Guide is intended to answer questions of pastors and laypeople such as: "What is Divine Mercy? What is Divine Mercy Sunday? How should it be celebrated? What options can be considered proper to make this Sunday a spiritually enriching experience?"
With the approval of the Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D., Vicar for Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Newark, the Guide will be distributed to each parish in the archdiocese.
"Because of their lack of staff and because of some uncertainty regarding what Divine Mercy Sunday is, many churches are still not organizing its celebrations," said Mrs. Flynn. "This Guide will serve as a 'how-to' to help parishioners and the clergy."
The 130-page Guide identifies the extraordinary spiritual benefits and blessings associated with Divine Mercy Sunday. It offers a useful resource to pastoral ministers and those who coordinate Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations.
What was Pope John Paul II’s and the Congregation’s reason for acceding to the wishes of the faithful and giving the Second Sunday of Easter an additional designation “Divine Mercy Sunday?”
The Christian faithful, according to the decree, wished to praise the “merciful and gracious Lord (Ps. 111:4), who, out of great love with which He loved us (Eph. 2:4) and [out of] unspeakable goodness, gave us His Only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, so that through the Death and Resurrection of this Son He might open the way to eternal life for the human race, and that the adopted children who receive His mercy within His temple might lift up His praise to the ends of the earth.”
They also wished to “praise that Divine Mercy in divine worship, particularly in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, in which God’s loving kindness especially shines forth.”
Why is Divine Mercy Sunday so important?
Jesus told St. Faustina that it was His desire that we celebrate this special feast: "The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 699).
Our Lord revealed to St. Faustina His desire to literally flood us with His graces on that day. Consider each of the promises and desires Christ expressed about Divine Mercy Sunday, recorded in passage 699 of St. Faustina's Diary:
"On that day the very depths of My tender Mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon these souls who approach the Fount of My mercy [the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist]. The soul that will go to Confession [beforehand] and receive Holy Communion [on that day] shall obtain 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. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter."
Importantly, the Divine Mercy Sunday graces flow not from particular devotional practices but from the Eucharist and its worthy reception. It is the living Lord, who is truly present in the Eucharist, who pours out special graces of regeneration on those who unite themselves to Him in Holy Communion on this particular Sunday.
Divine Mercy Sunday was named by Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. Then, it was officially decreed by the Vatican.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI underscored the importance of the Divine Mercy message with unmistakable clarity when he said: “The cult of Divine Mercy is not a secondary devotion but an integral dimension of a Christian's faith and prayer."
Father Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians' Director of Evangelization, said the Guide could ultimately help people understand more deeply God and His mercy, which is available to even the greatest of sinners.
"In this relationship with Him, we receive healing, we receive encouragement and hope, and we receive a new source of joy," said Fr. Kazimierz, know as 'Fr. Kaz,' "Through Divine Mercy Sunday, we are invited to God's beautiful home where everything is available to us for the asking. That's what Divine Mercy Sunday is — an incredible treasure available to us just for the asking."
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