On this Octave Day (8th day) of Easter, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was instituted for the Universal Church by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000 at the Canonization Mass for St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who received a series of revelations from Jesus about the great gift of Divine Mercy He offers to His children. In her famous Diary, she recorded the following words from our Lord Himself about the feast day He intended to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter:
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 graces 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. (Diary, #699)
Those final words stand out to me, for we hear the promise of peace that comes from turning to the Divine Mercy. In nearly 10 years as a priest, I count my time in the confessional as some of the most fruitful ministry I have done. I am constantly moved by the peace a penitent experiences as they encounter the gift of Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our sins deprive us of peace, but God’s mercy restores it in a powerful way that encourages us to not give up, but to begin again in our following the Lord, renewing our experience of the newness of life given on the day of our Baptism, and restored each time we encounter the Divine Mercy.
It is fitting that our topic for Family of Faith this month is the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Ordination incorporates men into the ministry of Jesus Christ Himself. Each degree of Holy Orders (Bishop, Priest, Deacon) participates in this ministry of Christ in different ways, but all of them share the common trait of being directed toward the salvation of others. And since we cannot be saved apart from the Divine Mercy, all those called to serve the Church in Holy Orders have the special task of being instruments of Divine Mercy in various ways through service (primary role of deacons) and the celebration of the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist (primary role of bishops and priests).
Please pray for the clergy of our Cathedral Parish, that we may be ever mindful of the duty entrusted to us to share the message of Divine Mercy in word and in deed, so that many may approach the Divine Mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Mercy, and experience the peace His Mercy bestows in this life as a preparation for the fullness of peace that awaits us in Heaven.