Divine Mercy

Here’s how one newspaper describes Divine Mercy Sunday:

Catholics can get salvation by celebrating Divine Mercy

In the 1930s, Jesus asked a Polish saint to establish a feast day that would be the last hope of salvation for Catholics.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II designated that feast, on the Sunday after Easter, as the feast of the Divine Mercy, where Catholics can go to confession, receive Holy Communion and “obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment,” said Robert Allard, director of the Apostles of Divine Mercy ministry in Port St. Lucie.

“It’s important especially for Catholics, because if they would die on that day, they’d go straight to heaven,” he said. “Normally as a Catholic, sins are forgiven because you make reparation for those sins. But because Jesus is coming and he wants people to return to church and get right with him before he comes, he makes this extraordinary offer.”

I’m going to ignore Allard’s comment about how sins are forgiven, because I want to focus on something else he says here on the theology of the feast of Divine Mercy (see also his recent article in the National Catholic Register).

The Feast of Mercy is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement (see Lv 16, Lv 23:26-32 and Sir 50). It is a day of forgiveness of sins for those who approach the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an annual celebration like the Day of Atonement – all sins and punishment are washed away in His infinite mercy. The focus of this paschal event is on God’s mercy for us sinners and His free gift to those who turn to Him with trust.

Interestingly enough, the texts of the liturgy for that Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter) already focus on the forgiveness of sins and mercy. The gospel is of Jesus appearing in the upper room and bestowing the authority to forgive sins (see Jn 20:19-5 1), and the other readings are about the blood and water and the proclamation of mercy (there was no need to change the texts)!

Our Easter liturgy had fulfilled the major feasts of the Old Testament – Passover and Pentecost – and was only missing the Day of Atonement. This Feast of Mercy now completes the needed fulfillment of Old Testament feasts.

In another place, he connects the feast with the return of Christ:

The main message that the Lord was revealing to the World was that He wanted to pour out His Mercy before His return. Jesus told Faustina, “Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy.” (Diary, 1146) This wide-opened door is Divine Mercy Sunday and the promise of the forgiveness of all sins and punishment for going to Confession and Communion on that feast day.

Jesus said, “On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls.” (Diary, 699)

“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 the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 699)

EWTN makes similar suggestions.

I draw attention to this for a couple of reasons. First, because today is the Second Sunday of Easter, also called the Feast of Divine Mercy.

Second, because there is something interesting in what these say. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is applied to a special message of mercy and cleansing from sin to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus. That just happens to be one of the distinctive teachings of Seventh-day Adventism–which Adventists started preaching some 85 years before St. Faustina’s apparitions.

17 thoughts on “Divine Mercy

  1. “It’s important especially for Catholics, because if they would die on that day, they’d go straight to heaven… Normally as a Catholic, sins are forgiven because you make reparation for those sins. But because Jesus is coming and he wants people to return to church and get right with him before he comes, he makes this extraordinary offer.”

    huh?

  2. The real kicker for today is this: some Catholics will use whether or not the priest mentions D.M.S. at Mass as a litmus test for his orthodoxy. If he celebrates the 2nd Sunday of Easter, he’s a heretic. I kid you not.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  3. I see you didn’t mention it in your posted homily. Which leaves one to ask, why not? The texts are about mercy. The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. Why make it one or the other?

  4. Obviously, I’m a heretic.

    Less obviously, I think Christ’s second return to the locked room is a great act of mercy for Thomas who seems very put out with the other disciples.

    Also, I probably just got caught up in the Denying Thomas line of thought and ran out of pages. I’m working on a short addition for the UD crowd tonight. My experience here tells me that a lot of UD students do not believe in God’s mercy.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  5. “Our Easter liturgy had fulfilled the major feasts of the Old Testament – Passover and Pentecost – and was only missing the Day of Atonement. This Feast of Mercy now completes the needed fulfillment of Old Testament feasts.”

    Gee, what took so long? Is it just me, or is this really bad theology?

  6. My point above is that some will think that today is Divine Mercy Sunday only and the failure on the part of the priest to mention it as such will constitute an act of disobedience or defiance. I don’t distinguish btw D.M.S. and 2nd Sunday of Easter. But some do and believe (falsely) that D.M.S. should trump the 2nd Sunday of Easter! It is just Low Sunday afterall.

    Check out the U.D. amendment of today’s homily. It got a very positive response from the students…go figure…

    Fr. Philip, OP

  7. No, it is not “just Low Sunday.” It is a Sunday in the Easter season. It is the end of the Easter Octave. There is nothing “just” about it.

    And it is not a matter of Divine Mercy Sunday trumping the Second Sunday of Easter–they are one and the same! The themes of divine mercy are the themes of the readings and the texts.

    Seems to me that the preacher doth protest too much.

    Yes, I saw the homily.

  8. The way Allard describes things is really off. It’s like everything Protestants accuse us Catholics of believing about justification.

    (And, aside: Did you used to be Seventh Day Adventist, Bill? You seem to have a fair number of posts on them.)

  9. Traditionally, the 2nd Sunday of Easter is called Whitsunday or Low Sunday b/c it follows the high of Easter Sunday proper.

    Bill: “And it is not a matter of Divine Mercy Sunday trumping the Second Sunday of Easter–they are one and the same!”

    Which is exactly what I wrote in my post above. My point is that OTHERS (not me) will inappropriately distinguish DMS from 2nd Sunday of Easter and claim that DMS is more important. I do not think that either one is more important than the other. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that just about every Sunday could be celebrated as DMS.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  10. The terms Whitsunday and Low Sunday are more commonly used among Anglicans, in my experience.

    The only other folks I know who make such an effort to distinguish the two are those who haven’t forgiven the pope for designating the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

    Ben: Yes, that’s how I was raised (and educated through college and a year of grad school).

  11. Our parish covered all bases. The Sunday was identified as Second Sunday of Easter, Low Sunday, White Sunday (Whitsunday), and Divine Mercy Sunday. And Father didn’t seem to suffer a hernia or even break a sweat with all that heavy lifting!

  12. Whoa – public revelation ended circa A.D. 100. Feasts added to the Church calendar since then have enriched the spiritual life of the Church and her members in myriad ways, but I wouldn’t characterize any of them as “needed.” I agree with Dim Blub (and, if I interpret him correctly, Mr. Cork himself) that this is bad theology.

  13. Bill wrote, “The terms Whitsunday and Low Sunday are more commonly used among Anglicans, in my experience.”

    This is certainly where I got the terms. But I asked some of the older RC’s I know and they said that these were common enough Back In the Day.

    I never figured out what a Rogation Day was though…

    Fr. Philip, OP

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