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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and Answers for Clergy

Q. Is "Divine Mercy" just a theme for the Second Sunday of Easter, much like "Good Shepherd Sunday," or "World Day of the Sick"?

A. The official decree proclaiming Divine Mercy Sunday was issued by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on May 5, 2000. It did not create a new feast day in the Church calendar; rather, it gave a new name to a day that was already a liturgical "solemnity" (the highest class of feast). It said that from now on the solemnity of the Second Sunday of Easter would be called Divine Mercy Sunday. Actually, to be more precise, the English translation of the Congregation's Latin decree is inaccurate. The English translation says that "in the Roman Missal, after the title 'Second Sunday of Easter' shall be added the appellation 'or Divine Mercy Sunday.'" But the official Latin version (which always takes precedence) says "shall be added the appellation 'that is [seu] of The Divine Mercy.'"

Thus, the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is not an optional "theme" for those who happen to like that sort of thing. Rather, it is now the official title of this solemnity in the Roman Missal, by decree of the appropriate Vatican Congregation. In a similar way, the official title for the solemnity of the octave day of the Nativity was named, long ago, the solemnity "of the Mother of God." As a result, it is now known as "The Feast of the Mother of God." In the same way, the Holy Father usually refers to Divine Mercy Sunday as "The Feast of The Divine Mercy." He is entirely accurate in doing so.

However, this does not mean that the pope created a new feast day for the Church. Again, the octave day of Easter was always a solemnity in the liturgical calendar. The pope just gave to this solemnity a new name a name which fits beautifully with the traditional prayers, readings, and psalms appointed for the day, which mostly center on the theme of the merciful love of God.

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