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April 23, 2017

SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY

JMJ

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! I believe that many Catholics still do not know very much about it, so let me provide the basics here. This new devotion came about through the collaboration of Pope John Paul II with Jesus and Sister Faustina, and a  number of others who have worked together to share God’s message of mercy with the world. It began in the 1930’s in Poland, at a time when the chaos in Europe was intensifying. The winds of war we’re beginning to blow. It was at this time that Jesus began to appear to this obscure Polish nun, whom he referred to as his secretary. She was instructed to write down his message for the world. She did this in her diary and it was eventually published under the title of ‘Divine Mercy in my Soul’, and it has become a bestseller worldwide. (Available, of course, in our bookstore.). We even have a connection here in the Detroit area. The original manuscripts were typed out by the Felician Sisters of Plymouth back in the 1940s. Today the American headquarters of the devotion is in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

There are several aspects of the devotion. Probably the most famous is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which is said on rosary beads. We say  it here every day during the school year, a little after 3pm (The “hour of mercy” when Jesus died on the cross), when the children are finishing up their day (you’re invited).

Then there is the Divine Mercy Image, which is currently displayed near the altar. There is also the novena, the nine day prayer which we have been praying this past week. And finally The Hour of Mercy  devotion on this official feast day which will take place this Sunday at 3pm.

The Divine Mercy has a similarity to that of the Sacred Heart which has been a part of the Catholic tradition ever since Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in France in the 1600’s. These two devotions call attention to the Heart of Jesus as being the center of his love and his mercy. In this devotion, however, He identifies mercy as his “greatest attribute”.

In the past, I have often preached about His mercy in  contrast with His justice, and, indeed, that is a great part of the devotion. Justice is also a positive attribute. But I have changed my focus a bit in recent years, and it is based on a passage from the Old Testament Book of Judith. This comes up from time-to-time in my Office of Readings. It goes something like this: “Merciless will be the judgment of those who do not show mercy. But in the end, Mercy triumphs over Judgment.” Well, when you think of it, that’s the definition of mercy. Not that we should be looking for excuses to not be merciful, i.e., we should never presume on His mercy, but in the end, if we have fallen short in being merciful people, then remember we can always fall to our knees and say, “Lord, have mercy.” (But we had better be verrrrrry sincere!)

There is one more dimension to the devotion and that is that famous signature that Jesus commanded be put on the Divine Mercy Image. In Polish,  “Jesu Ufam Tobie”, in English “Jesus I Trust in You”. And that was the focus of today’s homily.

Addenda:

The month of May will soon be upon us and that is always a month dedicated to our Blessed Mother. This year we will have the added focus of the 100th anniversary of her apparition at Fatima. It is our tradition to say the rosary before all of the Masses on the weekend as well as before the Masses on the weekdays. There will soon be a sign-up sheet in the narthex for anybody who would like to lead the rosary.

Our movie night in May will  fall on the anniversary date (the 13th), and we will show the original Hollywood movie from the 1950’s of the story of Fatima.

There are other more modern movies available for our consideration, but in July we will also have a special musical presentation by Julie Carrick from Scottsdale Arizona, who will be traveling through our area on a summer concert tour.

May will also be a busy month with all of the other activities: First communions and confirmations, graduations, and of course our parish feast day of Pentecost Sunday. Come Holy Spirit!

The baptismal font at the front of the church is filled with holy water blessed at the Easter vigil. Feel free to take some home.

Thanks to all of you who gave me and our staff, Easter cards and gifts.

I hope to see you all this afternoon. In case you hadn’t noticed, our world is still in need of a great mercy. More so than ever, I fear. Therefore, it would be very merciful for us to come together and plead for mercy on behalf of our world. Fr. J

 

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