Sunday, April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday: The Path to Peace

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was instituted by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, in response to a direct request by the Lord to a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope John Paul II canonized that year. In 1931, Jesus first appeared to St. Faustina in her convent in Krakow and asked her to become his “secretary,” and write down what He revealed to her for the good of the Church and the world. What He revealed to her was the message of His divine, merciful love. She wrote down what the Lord said and it filled in her diary, which turned out to be 689 pages in the English translation.

Here is one of the messages that the Lord gave to St. Faustina about the feast we celebrate today:
"My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. 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 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. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. 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."

St. Faustina received the message of Divine Mercy between the First and Second World Wars (1930 - 1938). Those who remember and who were witnesses and participants in the events of that time and experienced the horrific sufferings that they caused for millions of people, know just how important it was for all of us to receive the message of Divine Mercy.

Pope Benedict XVI describes what it was like for Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) to live at this time in history. "He lived under two dictatorial regimes, and in contact with poverty, need and violence, he experienced the depths of the power of darkness, which still permeates today’s world."

Jesus told St. Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy”.

This message is just as relevant today as it was at that time. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel message of Easter more intensely and offer it as a ray of light and hope to the people of our time.

What does the Lord teach us about mercy?

"Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful…. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
~ Luke 7:36 - 38

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

~ Matthew 5: 7

In both of the above quotes, the Lord reveals to us that in order to obtain mercy, we must first be merciful to others. Not only do we need to show them forgiveness and love through our words and prayer intercessions for them, but also through our actions by performing both the corporal works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy.

Why is there such a lack of peace in the world?

I believe that there is a lack of peace in the world because people have not been turning to God to receive and accept his mercy. How do we receive this mercy? It starts with the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance. It begins when we turn our hearts back to God and try to live our lives in accordance with His will by following His commandments.

How can Divine mercy provide that peace?

If everyone knew how precious they were to God just as they are and exactly how much He loves them and how powerful that love is, would they not turn back to Him with their whole mind, their whole heart and their whole soul? If they were to witness the power of God through the merciful acts of their brothers and sisters would they not run in the opposite direction of the world and find themselves in the arms of Jesus? If they were to trust God by standing strong to defend human life because they realized that God means what He says when He commands us not to kill but still shows mercy to the sinner, would not the holocaust of the innocents in our country cease to exist? If families and communities were to love, forgive, and be merciful toward one another as God is merciful toward us, would there not be peace on earth?

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

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